Ahh, The Breeders — champions of the low-tech, indie ethic of the early ’90s. Those twin sisters, Kim and Kelly Deal, and their spooky-yet-sensual vocals. Those guitar riffs your kid brother could play, but could never pull off like they did. This was the band that helped bring college-rock aesthetics into the mainstream.
Started as a creative jaunt for Pixies’ bassist Kim Deal and Throwing Muses’ guitarist Tanya Donnely, The Breeders’ first album, “Pod,” became an instant classic with its jagged tempos and DIY production. The band’s second release, “Last Splash,” went platinum, earned them a spot on the ’94 Lollapalooza Music Festival and kick-started a 16-month world tour. And then . . . then what? Where did they go? What happened to The Breeders?
A lot happened. Drugs happened. Tour-overkill happened. An ever-changing roster and dissent among the ranks happened. Put these together and you have nearly 10 years of unsuccessful recording attempts from one of the ’90s biggest indie success stories. The situation was so bad that a forthcoming album from The Breeders became a running joke in the music industry, like “The check is in the mail.”
Well, finally, the check has arrived, and The Breeders have named their new album “Title TK” (press-speak for “title to come”) in response to the media’s skepticism. Here, the Deal sisters — the only original members from “Last Splash”-era Breeders — simply pick up where the band left off. The awkward rhythms, the starts and stops, the pregnant pauses — they’re all here. Their off-key harmonies and four-chord, quirky, punk-pop are as intact as if the Deals had been cryogenically frozen for a decade.
Highlights include “Put on a Side,” whose coiling bass line and sporadic drum bashing recall a used car trapped in idle with the pedal to the floor. “The She” will please longtime listeners with its arbitrary breaks and keyboards that seem to struggle to escape the speakers.
Although “Title TK” is not The Breeders’ best work, a decade of absence will probably earn it a better reception. Let’s hope their next release comes before they’re almost forgotten again.