The Breeders – All Nerve (Album Review)

The Breeders – All Nerve (Album Review)

Every time an old and much-missed music vanguard is returning, especially when it is armed with new music to boot, the arrival becomes a cause for celebration. Just like how stout enthusiasts of Alternative Rock music should be feeling excited for the resurgence of The Breeders’ classic lineup of Kim Deal (lead vocals, guitar), Josephine Wiggs (bass, vocals), Jim Macpherson (drums, percussion), and Kelley Deal (lead guitar, vocals), with also a new album in tow.

Have in mind, The Breeders are not really coming back from the 1990s. Albeit the band went on a hiatus in the mid-’90s after releasing two albums – the debut, 1990’s Pod; and the commercially successful and critically acclaimed follow-up, 1993’s Last Splash – Kim reactivated the band in the 2000s and managed to release another couple of albums: 2002’s Title TK and 2008’s Mountain Battles.

Formed in 1989, in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, by Pixies’ Bassist Kim Deal with Throwing Muses’ Guitarist/Co-Vocalist Tanya Donelly, The Breeders became a major player in the American Alternative Rock scene in the mid-’90s. Its most popular single, “Cannonball,” climbed the charts along with those of other female-dominated bands of the time, like Throwing Muses (“Bright Yellow Gun”), Belly (“Feed the Tree”), 4 Non Blondes (“What’s Up?”), and Veruca Salt (“Seether”).

In 2012, the twins Kim and Kelly, Wiggs, and Macpherson reconvened for a series of tours; but it took six years more before they recorded again, resulting in the forthcoming new album, All Nerve. Scheduled to come out on Friday, March 2, 2018 on 4AD Records, The Breeders’ fifth opened with the drunken-stupor vibes of “Nervous Mary,” whose fuzzbox sensibilities flow electrically with the gigantic slicing sound of the ensuing “Wait in the Car.” The mood then slows down with the choppy, quiet-loud dynamics of the wistful title track.

The chugging, tribal, and ominous-sounding “MetaGoth” then exhibits The Breeders’ ability to adapt to the current times while maintaining their Post-Punk roots, aligning them with the contemporary purveyors of Indie Rock, such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs (“Maps”) and Interpol (“Slow Hands”); and yet exuding Gothic echoes of their original heroes and icons, such as Joy Division (“Dead Souls”) and Bauhaus (“Terror Couple Kill Colonel”). Afterwards, The Breeders turn timid again with the subdued sparseness of “Spacewoman,” which then ignites as the band’s rocket-fueled energy takes the song to Grunge territories. Then there is the subtly cinematic stomper “Walking with the Killer,” whose minimalistic and Shoegaze-inspired instrumentation will remind the initiated of Pixies (“Velouria”), Radiohead (“Anyone Can Play Guitar”), and Sonic Youth (“100%”), during these bands’ angst-driven heyday.

The Breeders’ Shoegaze/No Wave excursion continues with the fractured rhythm and angularity of “Howl at the Summit.” Possibly regarded as All Nerve’s highlight, the ensuing “Archangel’s Thunderbird” harks to the same dancefloor-worthy Indie Pop sensibilities of their massive hit, “Cannonball.” The mood then becomes quiet, rustic, and relaxing with “Dawn: Making an Effort,” which sounds as what may be described as a misty, early-morning Alternative Rock lullaby, complete with a Doo-Wop-styled backup vocal harmony.

Near the end of the road, Kim Deal spreads her pixie wings once again with the crunchy groove and sweet-sour sentiments of the penultimate “Skinhead #2.” Finally, the revved-up Kim, Kelly, Wiggs, and Macpherson wrap up their latest splash with the vaguely bluesy drone of “Blues at the Acropolis.”

With All Nerve’s twists and turns, signals and noises, and trademark aural dynamics, The Breeders are definitely back. Despite the ’90s Alternative Rock sonic regalia that they wear like a badge of honor, they are also equally proud to adorn themselves with the current paraphernalia of the genre that they helped propel quarter of a century ago. CrypticRock gives All Nerve 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase All Nerve:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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