Yes, you read that right. The Breeders.
Remember when you first rode the rushing sweep of “Hellbound?” Or how Cannonball made your spirits rise, no matter how many times it got played on alternative radio stations? It never got old. Like so many other songs credited to Kim Deal or Tanya Donelly. Counting Backwards by Throwing Muses. The Pixies’ Gigantic. Judy Staring at the Sun by Catherine Wheel. Just about anything by Belly. The totally underrated Pacer album by The Amps.
And of course the string of excellent Breeders songs: Divine Hammer. Lime House. Do You Love Me Now? I Just Wanna Get Along. Saints. Son of Three. The most beautiful cover of Happiness is a Warm Gun ever made. And those are just the ones I can reel off without thinking about it. How the fuck is there not a major covers/tribute album to these wickedly talented ladies?
Anyway, so, yeah, I’m a fan. And I’m really excited to listen to All Nerve. And it does not disappoint
The music still has that slow, low, grinding sense of menace, with pops of hook or flash, recalling the bandmembers’ long history from The Pixies to present. But the band seems to have also mellowed a bit. The noise and energy is still there on songs like Howl At The Summer, but overall the song is a slower moving beast than many of their songs from the 1990s. And of course that makes sense. They’re older, wiser, and more mature now. Less hook, no obvious single, and few songs that will stick in your head–even if the album overall should linger in your mind. It’s a mood, it’s an “overall.” It’s not made for radio, it’s made to be listened to with intensity and focus. But then again, they can still kick it on songs like Archangel’s Thunderbird. Most of all, they know what they’re doing–gone is the need to be brash or to prove themselves. They’re rock legends now, they know it, and they seem to have settled nicely into their own legacy.
Tonya Donnelly’s other band, Belly, has also released a comeback album–and it’s also good. Not quite as good, but also pretty different from All Nerve.
Belly was always a more pop-oriented vehicle, so it’s not a surprise that the songs are smoother and lighter. Ultimately, that means they don’t stick to your ribs in the same way either. So, still a solid album, but not as good as All Nerve.