Afterhours CD reviewed by Scott Suskawicz

Music Reviews
Afterhours CD reviewed by Scott Suskawicz
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Oct 1, 2007, 04:41

Afterhours - Ballads for Litte Hyenas
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AFTERHOURS Ballads for Little Hyenas CD

Somewhere between Pulp's This Is Hardcore and, aptly enough, The Afghan Whigs' 1965, lies the Greg Dulli co-produced, co-arranged, and partially written Ballads for Little Hyenas by the Italian band Afterhours. The production, though clear as a bell and nicely layered, leaves this record sounding a bit like an unfinished late period Afghan Whigs album dressed up a bit in the studio with Manuel Agnelli's vocals and words in place of Dulli's.

The results are interesting, if a bit trying at times due to the length and veer awfully close at times to resembling sonic wallpaper. Whether this is due to some of the tracks being overlong and droning, or the similar tempos and moods that don't change for close to 50 minutes is a safe guess to hazard, either way. Agnelli's slightly accented vocals evoke at times Joel Grey's Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret and are a bit humorous because of it, though it was probably not intended that way. The occasional falsetto that creeps in only increases the oddness. And while Lou Reed's heartbreaking "The Bed" is a good choice for a cover, it's given a ho-hum treatment here, adding to that sonic wallpaper feel.

The music itself is plush and dominated by keyboards and strings, and one time Bad Seed, Hugo Race adds some touches of guitar here and there. Much of the fleshing out of the music though makes you wonder what this band sounds like outside of a studio. The band is probably very good live, and this material might work better in that setting.  Did the band feel overwhelmed by this endeavor, perhaps a bit startstuck by Dulli and his interest in them? Â

If you're an Afghan Whigs fan and wish they had done more what they were doing on 1965, then this album is for you. If you're an Afterhours fan, you might just wonder what happened to your beloved band. [Mescal/One Little Indian]

-Scott Suskawicz

Ballads for Little Hyenas

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