CD review: Throwing Muses: Throwing Muses

(4AD) Also reviewed: Kristin Hersh: In the Grotto

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Sharing the same release date but exploring very different agendas, these albums reflect the warring nature of Kristin Hersh, the oft-anointed godmother of alternative rock. As the twisted voice and guitarist of the obtuse and influential Throwing Muses, Hersh aligned powerful imagery with harsh guitars. The band split in 1997; this is their grubby, pithy return. Debilitating passion propels the speeding rhythms and brooding melodies, co-founder Tanya Donelly adding cute, deranged backing vocals. Each squirming song abandons any notion of consistency as jagged guitars slice through the wailing rhythms.

Hersh watches, helpless, as relationships fall through her fingers like the rippling but uncomfortable melodies. Such heaviness is abandoned on Hersh's solo acoustic effort, In the Grotto, her vocals as naked and light as her words are dressed up. From the post-argument comedown of Sno Cat to the overly descriptive Vanishing Twin, Hersh slides over the shimmering melodies, never quite able to embrace their loveliness. Whether rocking out or looking within, Hersh remains uniquely contrary.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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