The US indie rockers go back to basics on their atmospheric 10th album
Seven years on from Purgatory/Paradise – a 67-minute avalanche of sometimes half-formed songs and ideas – the first striking thing about Throwing Muses’ 10th album is how relatively straightforward it is: 10 tracks, all with beginnings, middles and ends, and no accompanying book this time. The second is how, almost three and a half decades into their career, there has been no reining in of their intensity. The mesmeric Frosting owes something to the foreboding blues of Thalia Zedek’s band Come, in part because Kristin Hersh now sings in a lower register.
The throbbing opener Dark Blue is even heavier, built as it is on a grinding guitar riff, while the lyrics to the equally cacophonous Bo Diddley Bridge find Hersh swimming in a river after the bridge collapses, continuing an aquatic theme that has flowed through much of her work. The band are less assured on the quieter numbers, however. The likes of Milk at McDonald’s and the dreamlike Sue’s are pleasant enough (and the former includes the arresting line “I don’t regret a single drop of alcohol”), but unlike their best work there is precious little in the way of nagging hooks to lodge in one’s head.