For some a lack of development is failure; not for Kim Deal. Her songwriting and voice have influenced hordes of indie bands from the Eighties until now – indeed the “angular” clang and arch drawl of bands indebted to Pixies, and The Breeders, her band with sister Kelly, is as great a cliché as blues licks were in the Sixties and Seventies. Yet still, on this reunion album for The Breeders' 1993 lineup, the voice, sound and structures remain utterly distinctive and gloriously alien, a world away from the imitators, just as they shone out as different from all around them during The Breeders' greatest success in the grunge years.
Like all The Breeders' albums, this is short, as are the songs: 12 of them in 34 minutes. Yet each takes you places within its structure. There are obvious festival anthems, like the high-speed “Wait in the Car” with its stop-starts and “woah-oh woah-oh”s, and “MetaGoth” which almost sounds like a conscious Pixies nod with its one-note basslines playing off detuned Duane Eddy surf twang and shrieking lead guitar. But these are full of lyrical puzzles, snappy twists and odd tuning that could only be this band: nothing is obvious.
And when things brood, it's not like the slightly fuzzy drift of the last Breeders album Mountain Battles (2008): everything on “Walking with the Killer” and “Blues at the Acropolis” fairly crackles with energy and invention, and delight in the hum and buzz from misusing guitars and amplification, always in the pursuit of that ever-present strangeness. Lyrics are terse, full of repeated phrases, but every so often throwing up something eerily evocative like “junkies of the world lay across the monuments” or “I polish my scales and get nearer and nearer”. The title makes absolute sense: this feels like the work of people open to every sensation, all edges sharp, everything new and unfamiliar, even as they make no attempt to escape the sound they created all those years ago – a bit like John Peel said of the late Mark E Smith and The Fall: “always different; they are always the same.”
Overleaf: watch the reunited Breeders play 1993's 'Drivin' on 9'