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CD review: The Afghan Whigs’ ‘Do to the Beast’

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Annie Zaleski

Four stars

The Afghan Whigs Do to the Beast

During the 1990s, The Afghan Whigs frequently dabbled in classic R&B and gothic soul, which lent wickedly seductive (and, at times, seedy) backbone to their blackened rock tunes. On their first album in 16 years, Do to the Beast, that dark side hasn’t subsided; if anything, the record’s sucker-punch moments—from the heavy striptease grooves of “Parked Outside” to the snakecharmer strings on the bitter kiss-off “Matamoros” and math-grunge riffs lurching through “Royal Cream”—feel even more heart-hardened.

Still, the record boasts plenty of levity: Van Hunt’s soaring falsetto on “It Kills” matches the song’s beleaguered piano, while “Can Rova” is a surprisingly tranquil post-rock respite, and highlight “The Lottery” is a gnarled pop surge with some of frontman Greg Dulli’s most anguished (and cathartic) vocals. In the end, Do to the Beast does The Afghan Whigs’ legacy proud, even as it expands the band’s comfort zone.

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