Review Summary: With repeated listens, the latest from the Deal sisters and co. becomes a gloomy beast of a record.
Hearing that the Breeders’ lineup from the 1993 pop rock classic, Last Splash
, were releasing new material, I was overwhelmed in anticipation. I had missed the album’s 25th anniversary reunion tour, and had been looking for ways to mend my indecision ever since. The release date was March 2, 2018. This would be my redemption day.
March 2nd arrives. I listen to the album. I listen to it again. And I’m…disappointed.
Reason: I had a ticket to a nostalgia train that never came.
The latest from the Deal sisters, Jim Macpherson, and Josephine Wiggs does not seek to rehash the hook heavy pop rock of their previous classic, and is actually in the same vein as the last two records. It retains a lot of the brooding and atmosphere of Title TK
(2002) and Mountain Battles
(2008), while forging its own path. With its repetitive chugging guitars, drums that pound from the basement, and the Deal sisters’ breezy delivery, the album culminates in a sound that can best described as Big Foot on antidepressants (we’ll have more on him later).
Despite the many years that have passed since 90’s alt rock’s heyday, Kim and Kelly Deal’s vocals have retained their breezy youth. Tracks that abstractly ponder heavy topics like alienation (“Spacewoman”), murder (“Walking with a Killer”), stalking (“All Nerve”), all hit hard in their instrumentation but the Deal sisters’ buoyant vocals are just enough to soften the blow.
isn’t the type of album to stand up to a track by track comparison. Most of these songs blend together as they don’t have any noticeably distinct melodies. So, your experience with it is really going to depend on your willingness to take in the album entirely as the sum of its parts. With the instrumentation focusing on serving the mood of the lyrics more than anything, you might not walk away from this record humming a tune, but you will be emotionally affected. For me, it’s a feeling of weary positivity; that feeling that makes putting a smile on your face feel like lifting heavy weights.
With the tracks emphasizing mood rather than hooks, many of these tracks tend to be vivid in their imagery. One that always comes to mind is “Howl at the Summit.” It has this slow ascending build to it that makes it feel like it’s setting up for this grand reveal. For one reason or another, what I picture is from the first-person view of Big Foot:
POV Music Video: Big Foot wakes up to screams of distress in his forest. They’re faint but loud enough that his supernatural hearing picks up on in it and decides to pursue it. As he gets closer to the scene of the crime, the screams become louder and the situation becomes clearer. He follows a trail of blood, broken camping equipment, and torn clothes. As the track builds towards its peak, he gets to the camp site to find a father of two butchering his family. Arriving too late, Big Foot watches in horror as the man finishes work of his two sons. Eventually, Big Foot closes in on the man, and they meet face to face, astonished by each other. The father stunned because he’s encountered a mythical creature, and Big Foot, stunned by the reality that a man would do this to his family.