Don’t get the Twilight Singers mixed up with your favorite glittery vamps, Twi-hards — these rockers are more talented (but less chiseled).

The Twilight Singers

Dynamite Steps
Sub Pop

The ’90s rock band is back after a five-year hiatus with its fifth full-length album, Dynamite Steps. The New Orleans natives bring their grungy sound and Southern rock together for an explosion of an album. Once frontman of The Afghan Whigs, lead singer Greg Dulli serenades listeners with soulful, slurred vocals and a haunting lure.

Dynamite Steps notes the band’s New Orleans influence with a dusty saloon atmosphere. The smooth rockers slip into a hellish undertone of darkness and deceit, as Dulli sings on the high-energy “Waves:” “Born a liar, obfuscate / step aside while I manipulate.” On the record, Dulli recounts his life as if it were slowly dwindling into an abyss of nothingness. Cheers and claps close the song “Get Lucky,” as if he is recounting his own live performances and success.

The album also pays homage to the nighttime and the noir feel that comes with it. On “The Beginning Of The End,” Dulli eerily drones “The summer sun is dyed of irrelevance.” The album then takes a dream-scopic turn into a dark hollowness.

While most of the Twilight Singers’ discography forays into the murky and morbid, Dynamite Steps is also a lot grungier than 2003’s pop-sounding “Blackberry Belle.” The vocals and instrumentals are muffled with a lo-fi feel. The album isn’t as exciting as it is subdued and shadow-y, but it invites listeners in as it builds up stamina to eventually burst out with noise.

The album’s strength lies in its sound layering. On tracks like “Get Lucky” and “Never Seen No Devil,” strings are quiet in the background while raspy, deep vocals linger across the track with imprecise drum beats and a lethargic guitar, which eventually amp up into an exhilarating whirlwind.

The Twilight Singers often sound like Kings of Leon’s older brothers. On Dynamite Steps, the band tries meshing a modern sound with their usual vintage mood, mixing it up with the technology of today. The resulting work is commendable, as it updates its sound while still keeping its usual flow.

Dynamite Steps also features guest artists like Ani DiFranco, who lends her voice on the daintier, more folksy album closer “Blackbird and the Fox.” But the dusky imagery does not stop here, as DiFranco and Dulli describe “a black sky where the dreams collide.” This softer tone is a nice note to end on, and is the highlight of the album.

With gritty rock tendencies and an evening air, the Twilight Singers send listeners into the night knowing there will be great tunes.

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