(3 out of 5)
If there’s one thing that Greg Dulli has perfected after three decades of squirming around on his rock n’ roll underbelly, it’s how to create a mood. In fact, for most of the Twilight Singers’ existence, “mood” seemed about the only thing he was interested in; by creating smoky and dimly lit atmospheres, Dulli seemed to be denying the rancid heart that pumped bile and venom through the Afghan Whigs’ best rock n’ roll moments. All slow-burning drama with occasional flashes of pulse-quickening catharsis, the Singers have become an alt-rock band for grownups who like to pretend they’re still wrestling with the existential angst and soul-crushing confusion of their 20s. That formula does not change on this, the fifth Twilight Singers album; however, there is one moment on DYNAMITE STEPS — the blistering, spit-flecked explosion of “Waves” – that shows Dulli is still capable of working himself into a lather of rage…it’s just that he chooses not to these days. And that’s perfectly fine, as DYNAMITE STEPS reveals the Twilight Singers to be far more comfortable in their skin these days, having fully abandoned the tentative electronic flourishes of their earliest material, and recycling that leftover rage into something far more effective: mini-epics like “The Beginning of the End” and gentle – nearly beautiful – moments like “Be Invited” are par for the course now, proving that while Dulli may be a master at setting a mood, he’s never forgotten that you’ve gotta have a soul beneath the smoke and swagger.