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The Real Deal
The Breeders: Title TK
Posted: June 1,
To understand the new Breeders album, Title TK, it's important to
understand All Wave, primary Breeder Kim Deal's current philosophy regarding
music. Essentially, All Wave is an attempt to avoid dating sound via the use of
digital technology. Analog recording is used throughout the process. No frills,
no gimmicks. Granted, the equipment might be the best analog gear in the world,
but from opening take to final mastering there's no artificial computer
manipulation involved. In Deal's universe, ones and zeroes are simply too
definitive to adequately convey the depth of raw feeling she's aiming for,
especially on a disc as intently (and intensely) personal as this one. Title
TK (journalistic slang for Title to Come) is a rough-hewn, careworn affair.
It's an exhausted record, one that manages to impart the feel of travel and
meaningless sex, jetlag and disorientation, fueled by uppers and decompressed
with downers -- a zone where there's no center holding things together.
The raunchy, abrasive "Little Fury" kicks things off with Deal and sister Kelley
trading off vocal duties as guitarist Richard Presley and bassist Mando Lopez
(members of veteran LA punk outfit Fear) and drummer Jose Medeles back them up
with a stripped down, pulverizing groove. On the isolated,
island-paradise-as-personal-hell "Off You," the background noise is diminished
in favor of Deal's cracked, painfully adrift voice seeking someone to lean on
and finding no obliging shoulders.
Three tracks -- "The She," "Too Alive" and "Forced to Drive"
-- were recorded in
1999, with just Kim and Kelley. Kim played most of the instruments, and her
nascent drum work is noticeably erratic and off tempo, especially when
contrasted with Jose Medeles' steady hand throughout the remainder of the album.
Not surprisingly, these are the sparest, least fleshed out cuts on Title TK.
Rather than detract from the album, however, the songs add to the overall mood
of despair, reinforcing the sense of a general disconnectedness with any
semblance of a normal life.
"Son Of Three" examines the emotional void left in the wake of physically
satisfying but ultimately empty hotel-room hook-ups, while the droning "Put on a
Side" offers a disquieting look at being zoned out on drugs, unable to find
sanctuary from oneself, punctuated by the eerie, repetitive line: "Better I
And "Full on Idle," which first appeared on 1995's Pacer (from Deal's
band the Amps), is redone in a tighter, tougher manner, adding much needed
energy to the record while careful not to denude the deliberately paced tempo.
"Sinister Foxx" proves the climax, as the Deal sisters insistently question the
fate of a missing iguana (apparently an inside joke regarding marijuana dealers
and their specialized use of terrariums) and the direction their own lives are headed. The only
song out of place on this brooding, emotionally strained and jaded gem is the
last, "Huffer," a fast, fun, upbeat tune that would have fit in nicely with the
aforementioned Amps record, or on the last Breeders effort, 1993's Last
Splash. After establishing such a carefully crafted vibe, "Huffer" (despite
being a solid cut in its own right) undermines the final effect -- but
thankfully, not overly so.
Title TK is a welcome return for Kim Deal, and ranks as her peak artistic
statement to date. It's a defiantly anti-commercial album; one built more for
cathartic expression than fretting over the amount of units sold. On "London
Song" she sings, "I'm leaking pure white noise" and with Title TK she
backs up that statement with a record that hearkens the beginning of an All Wave
movement more artists might consider latching onto.
Deal Him In
Producer/engineer Steve Albini has quite the musical
history with Kim Deal. Aside from Title TK, the two worked together
on the Pixies' Surfer Rosa (1988), the first Breeders album, Pod
(1990), and the Amps' lone effort, Pacer (1995).
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