You can't help wondering what kind of blistering gems this lot could have produced if...
Helen Groom 2008-04-04
The Breeders are back after an extended six year hiatus following 2002 album Title TK. Not that this has done them any harm, from the sounds of Mountain Battles. Pixies bassist Kim Deal, twin sister Kelley, Jose Medeles and Mando Lopez have put together a collection of short, sharp songs that rarely bother the threee-minute timer.
It's still a raw, sparse, lo-fi sound, with the band restraining the monster sound you know they could make if they chose to. Instead they've attempted something far more interesting.
Opener Overglazed has a stripped-back joyous feel to it, with barely any lyrics. It grabs you by the throat. Following track Bang On changes direction completely with a thumping drum line and defiant lyrics: ''I love no one/and no one loves me''. Right from the start Mountain Battles defies attempts to put it in a box.
The lazy charm of We're Gonna Rise is followed by a harmony-laden treat in the form of German Studies, which combines brain-hooking riffs with lyrics entirely in German. Not content with tackling one foreign language, Kelley takes over lead vocals on Spanish song Reglalame Esta Noche, creating a little slice of loveliness.
Country tones then get a look in on Here No More, but then the sound switches to buzzing, old-school guitars and minimalist vocals on No Way, and then segues to the punk-ish It's The Love. Somehow, seemingly in defiance of logic, it all fits together. Just don't question how.
The whole album is like a pared-down slap round the side of the face, defiantly avoiding being over-produced or effects-laden. Such sparseness makes for attention-grabbing, but despite the plethora of styles, on some tracks you just need a little more sonic depth. You can't help wondering what kind of blistering gems this lot could have produced if they really let rip in the studio.