Album Reviews

Dirty Three – Love Changes Everything

(Bella Union) UK release date: 28 June 2024

Ninth album from Warren Ellis and co ranges from the filthy and greasy to the reserved and demure, confirming them to be masters of their craft

Dirty Three - Love Changes Everything After having spent the last couple of decades as Nick Cave’s (Red) right hand man, Warren Ellis finally had the bright idea to reboot the band that made him such an attractive proposition for the Bad Seeds: the Dirty Three.

A pioneering slowcore band of the highest calibre, the Dirty Three have released a treasure trove of fantastic work across their 32 year career. During their first run, the consistent lineup – Warren Ellis on violin and other stuff, Mick Turner on guitars and Jim White on drums – made truly remarkable albums like Horse Stories and Ocean Songs, but also contributed to albums by Cat Power and Will Oldham, amongst others.

This new album – Love Changes Everything – arrives only a couple of months before Ellis goes back on tour in support of the new Nick Cave album, so they’ve got little time to bask in the impending critical acclaim before Dirty Three hits the backburner once again. And what an album to leave us with…

Made up of six pieces – Love Changes Everything I through VI – that range from raw and ragged to soft and haunting, it’s an album defined by its various juxtapositions. The first track, I, is one of those raw, ragged numbers – with an aggressively lo-fi din being crafted from waves of distorted noise. It’s filthy, and greasy, and the direct opposite of the second, II, which is reserved and demure and clean.

The use of spare piano allows II to blend in nicely with III, which is its hyper-caffeinated, under-slept alter ego. As the album progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the Dirty Three’s creative flame is still strong, and that Warren hasn’t given too much of himself to Nick Cave – he’s still got plenty in reserve.

On track IV, the band returns to more familiar terrain with a scratchy, nostalgic and almost ghostly violin piece that becomes gradually more intense as it goes. This track, and especially V and VI, form a kind of holy trinity of Dirty Three songs – they are exactly the kind of tracks you’d show someone to demonstrate the very best of what the band does. These final pieces unfold slowly and deliberately, drawing listeners in with their intimate, introspective moments before erupting into powerful crescendos, with the last track erupting towards the end of its ten-minute duration.

While the album’s structure might appear disjointed on first listen, or seem off-putting, its contrasting moods and textures assure you that multiple listens will reveal the joins, the hinge points, and they really, really do. The Dirty Three have never been afraid to experiment, and Love Changes Everything feels like a victory lap rather than a ‘we’re back’.

The album is a triumph and a testament to the enduring creativity of Warren Ellis, Mick Turner, and Jim White. This is a truly wonderful album from masters of their craft. Enjoy it loud, and often.

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