Screaming Trees: Invisible Lantern

This is the sound of a band finding their sound. Despite it being the band’s third album in a catalog that also includes a preceding EP, this is the first one where they are, as I think of them, fully Screaming Trees.  And I don’t think I’m just saying that because this is the first of their albums that I listened to back in the day. It feels like the band is much more confident here, really strutting with forceful rhythms and muscular riffs.

The sound is pretty lousy. It’s lo-fi, but not in that fuzzed out good way, it’s really just more muddy. The nice thing is that singer Mark Lanegan is closer to the front here.

And there are a few weaker songs that, while inoffensive, aren’t really necessary to leading a full life. The line in “Even If” about how “all the animals come out to see” never fails to remind me of Get A Life‘s Zoo Animals On Wheels where the audience becomes the zoo and a fight breaks out–so that’s a good thing. “Direction Of The Sun” is probably the worst of the bunch. “She Knows” has a bit of a running-off-the-rails punk energy to it that works, but it just feels like an experiment for a band whose strengths lay mostly elsewhere.

Still, this album has some of the band’s best songs, and that’s what it will be remembered for. “Grey Diamond Desert,” with its prominent piano, is the first time the band really pulls off the epic track, and the sheer wonderfulness of that and the rest of the full tracks is what keeps some of the open hearts (“The Second I Awake,” “Invisible Lantern”) down at that rating just because they don’t measure up.

Rating:
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– “Walk Through To This Side,” “Lines & Circles,” “Grey Diamond Desert,” “Smokerings,” “Night Comes Creeping”
– “Ivy,” “She Knows,” “Shadow Song,” “The Second I Awake,” “Invisible Lantern,” “Even If,” “Direction Of The Sun”
Filed Between: Screaming Jets (All For One) and Screaming Trees’ Buzz Factory

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