Music » CD Reviews

The Breeders

Title TK (Elektra)

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We regard the Breeders as perhaps you regard your no-account, jail-prone Uncle Bob -- if he shows up for Thanksgiving dinner at all, you're happy and relieved. Even if he's wearing his pants inside out and drooling all over the table.

Yeah, savor that image. Title TK certainly embodies it. As the absurdly awaited follow-up to freakin' 1993's Last Splash, this 12-track ball o' confusion arrives lugging more baggage than Princess Vespa in Spaceballs. Nearly a decade has passed since such breezy, sardonic pop tunes as "Cannonball" and "Divine Hammer" cast Dayton's Deal sisters as the dual-chambered beating heart of '90s alt-rock, but apparently even Kim and Kelley found that metaphor unbearable. Breakups, countless lineup changes, endless false starts, never-ending drug rumors. Title TK, appropriately, sounds completely disoriented.

All the Breeders touchstones remain -- twisted surf-guitar line, tightly compressed bass, weird Deal-to-Deal vocal harmonies. But only the final track, "Huffer," grabs those elements and breaks into a sprint. The preceding 11 lope aimlessly about, frowning at their own reflections. "Off You" breaks down to minimal guitar, upright bass, and Kim's oddly frail voice. "Put on a Side" only adds harmony. "The She," drums and dissonant piano.

When focused, the Breeders can still pump out a hook that actually sticks -- "Has anyone seen the iguana?" the Deals repeatedly intone on "Sinister Foxx." But the rest of TK sounds absolutely shell-shocked -- a sterling pop-rock band blown to pieces and nowhere near being put back together again. Could be worse, though. You're lucky Uncle Bob's wearing pants at all.

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