Throwing Muses’ new album Sun Racket is out now via Fire Records.
If I look around Glasgow’s West End these days, I feel like I’m in a soft focus, 90’s music video – surrounded by Champion jumpers and curtain haircuts. While I may wander around like a grumpy old man sneering at this phenomenon, it seems like Throwing Muses should be the soundtrack and that is a great source of cheer.
The Rhode Island indie stalwarts are back with another delightful offering. My favourite quote from singer/songwriter/guitarist Kirstin Hersh perfectly sums up the feel of the album versus the parlance of the times: ‘I wouldn’t be performing if it wasn’t a chance to disappear into the music’. This may go against the “Look at Me” culture in which we find ourselves in but Sun Racket is definitely an album to disappear into.
The sultry guitar intro to opening track ‘Dark Blue’ is a reminder that Throwing Muses have not gone anywhere. The almost Nirvana-esque introduction, mixed with Hersh’ raspy, melodic drone whisk the listener off into an early 90’s dreamscape where we are all playing Kerby in a sunny cul-de-sac afraid of scuffing our brand-new Puma King trainers (Not speaking from personal experience at all).
There is a really nice, unhurried kind of poetry to the lyrics- ‘And if I were a Better dreamer, you would be a dream come true, Dark Blue’ and this carries throughout the whole track, with the underwater imagery and repetition of ‘Coming down’ making it seem like you’re floating along on the open ocean looking up at the moonlight. This is an excellent opener to the album and a little snippet of the journey you are about to go on.
If ‘Dark Blue’ was the beginning of a nice restful sleep, then ‘Bywater’ is where the questionable substances or large volume of alcohol that you consumed before bed start to take over the dream. We continue with the wistfully picked guitars which lull you into a false sense of security- Until suddenly things at the party have taken a dark turn. Nothing is going to jump out and scare you- But the haunting, high pitched ‘la la la la’s and an unhinged Freddie Mercury in the toilet (for context- ‘Who’s goldfish in the toilet? Don’t flush it. It’s Freddy Mercury’) definitely makes me think of a party where I would need a lie down and a cuddle. The song itself is very well put together and flows very nicely, don’t let my fear of Freddie the Goldfish put you off!
As we continue on this pleasant amble through the minds of Throwing Muses- We come along to the track ‘Maria Laguna’. We can only assume that Maria has some untimely end as the song lasts less than two minutes and after turning round to sirens, the song just ends. Meanwhile, I’m sat in my living room wondering ‘What happened to Maria?! What did she do?!’ I guess I’ll have to keep listening for some answers, such a tough gig.
Things have been drifting along smoothly until we pick up again with ‘Bo Diddley Bridge’, a slightly more raucous affair. There is a real White Stripes feel to this song, with an excellent, almost country guitar riff and the reference to Bo Diddley. The aquatic theme which has been present throughout the album continues further here- ‘The bridge collapsing, the water waiting, who’s saving us?’ Could also be a metaphor for 2020? To be honest, this track is a welcome livener as things had gotten a little bit too sleepy and it was a nice kick back into life.
‘Upstairs Dan’ is a mix of the cacophonous ‘Dark Blue’ and the stargazing ‘Bywater’ with the moody, atmospheric tone adding a very sinister edge. This, coupled with a slight venom in Hersh’s voice as she seems to argue with her upstairs neighbour. There is a real dark feel to this song- where we seem to get an insight into the life of Dan. Much like ‘Maria Laguna’, there are a lot of unanswered questions from this exchange but it definitely makes me want to listen on.
The standout track for me has to be ‘Frosting’, a real thumping track which seems to encapsulate everything about this album, with siren like guitar riffs and a real frantic feel to the lyrics, the song seems to suggest an escape from something or someone. There is a real feel that the song is shouting at you to keep going. You’ll get away.
By the end of the final track ‘Sue’s, you certainly feel that you have been through something with Throwing Muses- from swelling, dreamlike states, to flushing Freddie Mercury down a toilet. This is certainly an album worth making a racket about.