- Kim hasn't lost her song writing knack
- That the 'Last Splash' lineup is back together and still as cool as ever
- That it's taken so long to get here!
You’d be forgiven for thinking that, near 30 years after first releasing material, The Breeders would be content to rest on their laurels and play on the nostalgia of a project held in high regard among the alt-rock aficionados. But to think in this way would do a disservice to the boundless, restless energy found in the band, and particularly in band lead (and only continuous member) Kim Deal. Far from settling in to a mid-to-late career malaise, The Breeders have spent their time since revisiting their classic 90’s album ‘Last Splash’ at 2012’s LSXX cultivating a darker and more fragile sound on their new album ‘All Nerve’, their first release in 10 years.
This direction is not immediately obvious on the opening single ‘Wait In The Car’, released towards the end of 2017. Naturally for Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs, and Jim MacPherson, the reformed lineup who created such bruising tracks as ‘Cannonball’ and ‘No Aloha’, the spiky, off-centre guitar chords are present here in a track with all the hallmarks of those heady early days for the band. We also find Kim in playful mood, opening with the lyrics “Consider I always struggle with the right word” before meowing in to the microphone to emphasise the fact.
‘Wait In The Car’ is by no means indicative of the sound of the album as a whole however, and in fact is more of an outlier here. It’s on the title track ‘All Nerve’, on ‘Metagoth’, and on the excellent mid-album track ‘Spacewoman’ where the theme of ‘All Nerve’ is built. It’s not necessarily an exploration in to brand new territory, but the sense of vulnerability and intimacy is certainly amplified here on an album which feels as if Kim and co. have allowed themselves a little room to breath. ‘Spacewoman’ is a beautiful, expansive piece which floats on a lone guitar before the bass and drums join for the chorus. The lingering effects, however, remain throughout like a broken radio transmission. ‘All Nerve’, meanwhile, is a brooding and seemingly more up-front song, directed at a close friend or lover in the hopes of convincing them to come back, with Kim imploring “I wanna see you / especially you / you don’t know how much I miss you.”
Although each of The Breeders previous 4 releases are distinct from one another, there are 2 clear phases for the band; ‘Pod’ is the stripped back, raw, visceral debut; ‘Last Splash’, their greatest album to date, injects their sound with a plethora of hooks, a pop sensibility, and all the while with tongue firmly in-cheek. In contrast, the second half of their discography thus far, encompassing both the fractured yet misunderstood ‘Title TK’ and the steady ‘Mountain Battles’, feels as if it’s struggling a little to break from the expectation generated by such a bold, explosive opening act.
‘All Nerve’, coming so long after album 4, feels fresher, less concerned with expectations and the inevitable comparisons to their earliest work in favour of exploring what it means to be The Breeders nearly 30 years on from their beginning. It’s complex, with method and meaning teased out with each listen, and it’s triumphant on it’s own terms. It may not be as immediate, or as consuming, as ‘Last Splash’. But, after a long 10 year wait, it’s nice to hear that The Breeders are moving in a direction which promises an intriguing future for the band.