With a career spanning from Screaming Trees’ 90s Psychedelic Grunge, to the Desert Rock of Queens Of The Stone Age, and even to recent ventures in Electronic music, Mark Lanegan seems to have a growing reputation in nearly every corner of the music world. This time around, the versatile vocalist has released Somebody’s Knocking, an open acknowledgement to his admiration for the gothic Post-Punk of the 1980s. Though certainly diverging down a path different from past efforts, Lanegan’s personality is not lost beneath this Darkwave mask.
Without a doubt, Mark Lanegan has proudly worn his influences on his sleeve in Somebody’s Knocking. The record melts Lanegan’s scratchy baritone voice into an atmosphere any fan of Joy Division or New Order would find familiar. Even despite Lanegan’s past explorations into vaguely similar genres, Somebody’s Knocking elevates elements of previous records into territory nobody saw coming. This is, through and through, a throwback to the 80s Post-Punk that heavily flirted with early Electronic music.
While nothing entirely original, the gothic, foreboding aesthetic the album establishes is a truly solid sound. The idea of blending synths into the gruff vocals of Mark Lanegan sounds like a bad joke doomed to fail, and yet, Somebody’s Knocking has pulled this feat off surprisingly well. The raw production choices are unconventional for sure, but nevertheless complement the record’s spirit for the better. The effort of Somebody’s Knocking alone is a testament to Mark Lanegan’s versatility as a modern rock artist, and whatever lies beyond in his increasingly ambitious future works.
But again, the lack of original sounds Somebody’s Knocking yields cannot be ignored at the end of the day. Lanegan’s tribute to the influential artists of his youth is admirable, though this leaves the record as nothing truly groundbreaking nor worth fondly reminiscing about. The songs themselves remain distinct enough despite a longer listen of fourteen tracks, though to call each memorable is a bit of a stretch. Somebody’s Knocking might have been a decent enough album in the prime of the 1980s, though as a record of today, it struggles to add much of substance. In the grand scheme of things, Somebody’s Knocking leaves the image of an impressive one-time feat rather than an inventive classic to endure years to come.
Against its shortcomings, Somebody’s Knocking still isn’t an album undeserving of praise. The aesthetic Mark Lanegan conjures is something remarkable, a conscientious blend of the 80s Post-Punk he grew up on, and his own signature stylistic choices. Though perhaps not a creative breakthrough, nor the “next big thing” in rock, Somebody’s Knocking has clearly molded Mark Lanegan for the better. It only adds further to the broad catalogue of sounds he’s offered throughout the years, and maybe that in and of itself is enough to be commended for.
Rad Tracks: Night Flight To Kabul, Gazing From The Shore, Paper Hat
Not So Rad Tracks: Letter Never Sent, Stitch It Up, Penthouse High
Somebody’s Knocking is streaming everywhere now.