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CD of The Week

Week of 3/05/18

    The Breeders - All Nerve (4AD)

    The Breeders lineup that endured their most critically successful period ('92-'94) is back 24 years later with new material. The mid 90's brought the band prestige by opening for Nirvana, playing a choice spot at Lollapalooza and most significantly, releasing the immaculate Last Splash. Their candle burned bright but short, as that iteration called it quits over disagreements and drug issues after an exhaustive two years.

    Thanks to twins Kim & Kelley Deal's persistence and the 20th anniversary re-release/tour of Last Splash (LSXX), the highly lauded lineup got back together. After slowly making amends, they decided to record new material together, resulting in All Nerve. But don't go in looking for a Last Splash "part two." You won't find any immediately radio-ready hooks, outright surf themes or cutesy country jams. The sweeping theme is atmospheric, sludgy and complex guitar-forward songs that lend themselves to a more progressive sound. They even tackle Krautrock with a cover of Amon Düül II's "Archangel's Thunderbird" which allows Jim Macpherson's drumming to shine. "Walking with a Killer," a remake of a 2012 solo track from Kim, also starts with a solid drum into, and evolves into a Stockholm syndrome dream sequence, where Kim's vocals seem to float empathetically as she sings, "I didn't know it was my night to die." Bassist Josephine Wiggs wrote, plays guitar and sings on "Metagoth," a dark wave Ladytron-like song with elements of both Sparks and New Order. "Blues at the Acropolis," the slow, plodding album ender laments of lost respect with lines like "Drunks take a piss where heroes once bled out."

    There is still a lot of nostalgia value though. They are still with label 4AD and employ the immediately recognizable collaging style of album artwork that has complimented their sound since the early '90s. The unmistakable Deal harmony is present throughout the album, especially on the closest-to-a-throwback song "Nervous Mary." There is a certain sleepiness to "Dawn Making an Effort" that captures the dream-pop elements of "Mad Lucas." And they still possess the uncanny ability to use pregnant pauses and "dead space" to their advantage, capturing the listener's attention on "Skinhead #2" and the single "All Nerve."

    The Breeders now seem to be completely clean, sober and on the same page. Their music is still relevant and continues to be an outlet for Kim's artistic vision.

    The band will be touring around the globe this spring and summer but surprisingly there is no Philadelphia date.

    **Donate $20 or more to Y-Not Radio to receive All Nerve on CD. Click here for details.

    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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