Hurts So Good

Dark, brooding organ swells, midtempo shuffles, moody guitar riffs, mysterious lyrics and crooned vocals. No, this isn't the resurrection of the Doors. Still, the Gunga Din do a good job of channeling parts of that band's first album, as well as summoning up the spirits of other artists (X, Suicide, etc.) who have also appropriated various aspects of the Doors' murky music.

These Lower East Side cellar dwellers have sprouted from the same bad seeds that spawned Nick Cave, and they make "The End" sound like a birthday party ditty. The lyrical dirt and musical filth that clogs the grooves of this record are so wretched that, after finishing Glitterati for the first time, I felt compelled to baptize myself in the music of the Backstreet Boys.

On "Mama," (RealAudio excerpt) singer Siobhan Duffy repeatedly asks, "Are we having fun yet?" Well, it depends on whom you poll: If you ask Duffy, she'll answer "Nooo!," as she does at the end of her desperately repeated query. But if your idea of a good time is wallowing in sublime musical misery, the answer is an unequivocal "Yes!" After all, how could one resist the agony-filled lyrics of "Let's Play a Game," (RealAudio excerpt) wherein Duffy moans, "Pain, pain/ Your loss is my gain/ Revenge is the only way/ To wash down the drain/ All the lies that you tell." What else makes the Gunga Din's music hurt so good? Well, in some ways, it's because there's comfort in familiarity, and this quintet mines much of the same territory that those above-mentioned Doors-influenced acts do. But even more important, the Gunga Din crew knows what to do with those ingredients in a way that doesn't let them go stale.

For instance, when the roller-rink-from-hell organ melody that runs throughout "Hollywood" (RealAudio excerpt) collides with scratchy, chiming guitars that, in turn, refract off Duffy's sultry vocals, it sounds new, fresh, musty and old — all at the same time. I guess you could think of the Gunga Din as your cool uncle's worn out Bauhaus T-shirt that has seen more than its fair share of days.