“Hey, fuck you, lady…I’m just trying to do my job here. Do I come down to the 7-11 and unplug the Slurpee machine when you’re working? Do I go to the Greyhound station and kick in the bathroom stall when you’re trying to make a buck? You know, Mom, I know we’ve had our differences, but do you really have to do this?” — Mark Lanegan in response to a heckler, December 12, 2003
Years ago, in the liner notes to the Hype! soundtrack, a documentary of the Seattle grunge scene, Lanegan was described as as a “sensitive redneck poet.” He also happens to be incredibly badass. It is even rumored that Lanegan was once admitted to a hospital with a collapsed lung, only to immediately sign himself out because he refused to miss a gig.
Lanegan may appear cadaverous, but he’s certainly alive as his solo efforts prove: 2003’s Here Comes That Weird Chill EP and now the full-length Bubblegum in 2004. The album title, of course, is misleading, because listeners won’t find a pop song anywhere. However, Bubblegum proves addictive and is a great accomplishment. One can’t help but sigh at the Mark Lanegan Band’s lineup which includes Duff and Izzy (of GNFNR), PJ Harvey, Greg Dulli (of Afghan Wigs and Twilight Singers), Dean Ween, and even the impeccable Brian Deck. Lanegan is careful, however, to avoid the perils of other superstar lineups. He does not let his friends’ talent overshadow his, and he does not hide Bubblegum‘s loose charm with irritatingly precise studio magic.
Bubblegum is the first of Mark Lanegan’s solo work to effectively combine his experiences in the grungy Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age with his affection for acoustic music. Here, Lanegan’s perfect baritone graces both spare acoustic and dense electric tunes.
Concerned fans of the Trees and the Queens need not worry that Lanegan has left his hard-living life, and Bubblegum contains enough drug and alcohol references to worry listeners that Lanegan won’t be around to continue breaking ground. Nonetheless, as long as he lives, he will likely remain one of the fiercest singer/songwriters in rock and roll.