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Throwing Muses

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Album Review

Throwing Muses were anomalous long before they came back to 4AD to record their second self-titled album. By 1996's Limbo, they were a rare band that had continued to make vibrant and vital music well after a decade of existence. And now they're even more of a rare case; several years after that last album, they have returned with their loudest, noisiest, most immediate album yet — and it's one of their best. It only proves how much the band was missed, despite several fine Kristin Hersh albums in the interim (including another released the same day as this record). Saying the trio hasn't lost a step is an understatement, because this could pass as an album that was recorded during off-days on the Limbo tour. The unexpected shifts of tempo, created by the extremely undervalued and unique rhythm section of bassist Bernard Georges and drummer David Narcizo, combined with Hersh's sorcerer-like control over her guitar — serpentine twists, rush-inducing gusts of noise, straightforward riff shards — whip through these songs with an alarming degree of urgency. Hearing Hersh, with her mouth like a trucker and voice like a siren, belt over the din (backed by Tanya Donelly on several occasions) remains a fantastic charge, especially when she's dishing out lines like: "I'm so sorry I'm cardiac baggage" and "Here's a big fat aspirin/Maybe you'll choke/That's not funny." Even though all these songs sound honed, as if they were fleshed out long before they were recorded, some have so much quickened force behind them that they come off as if the band was working against the clock. Despite this possibility, the clearest notion beyond the album's excellence is that time hasn't actually done anything to diminish the power of this band. Reunions are normally lost causes. Not in this case.


Formed: 1983 in Providence, RI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the greatest college bands of the '80s, Throwing Muses was formed in 1983 by guitarist/vocalist Kristin Hersh and her half-sister guitarist/vocalist Tanya Donelly with a few friends from high school. In 1986, the group's debut album was put out by the prestigious British label 4AD; Throwing Muses was the first American band to be released on that label. Throwing Muses' angular, anguished, mercurial sound had much to do with Hersh's mental illness (she suffered from a form of bipolarity that...
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