Throwing Muses' melodic hooks,willed riffs and hypnotic rhythms are islands rising out of chaos-- safe but slippery stones leading across a river of needs and disappointments. Originally a group of Newport, Rhode Island, teenagers inspired by Velvet Underground records to create odd songs with dark moods, the Muses have become an accomplished vehicle for principal songwriter Kristin Hersh's intense salvos in her battles against depression and domesticity. Hersh's obscure yet intimate lyrics, and unique sense of songcraft and guitar-playing,recall Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell, but the Muses splice skittering punk into their folk, raising the decibels on their confrontations with confusion.
Following a seven-inch EP and an excellent but hard-to-find self-distributed cassette, Throwing Muses, the first release of an American band on 4AD, captures the angst of a gifted, strong-willed adolescent struggling not to get swallowed into the compromises of womanhood. "A kitchen is a place where you break things, and clean up," Hersh sings in "Vicky's Box." Hersh moans, screams and shakes her voice in a death-rattle vibrato; she has admitted suffering from often severe depression. Her songs are complex assemblages patterned more on mood swings than trad song forms, with inventive mixtures of rock, reggae, tribal and martial rhythms, and the band veering suddenly from a loping waltz to a mad march-- as if the tunes were breaking down and recovering in front of us. Guitarist Tanya Donelly's two Throwing Muses compositions contain similar sonic elements poured into a more melodic pop form and sung in her sweeter voice.


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