In the fall of 2013, seminal indie rock band Throwing Muses broke a 10-year hiatus – although to be honest it wasn’t much of a hiatus for front woman Kristin Hersh who continued to releases masterful solo albums and guitar-driven punk rock with her other band 50 Foot Wave. But I digress. Throwing Muses return with the 32-track masterpiece ‘Purgatory/Paradise.’
In typical Hersh and band fashion, the Muses gave back to their fans with the return album offering up a gorgeous hardback book full of lyrics, short essays and stories by Hersh about each song, and exclusive photographs and artwork. In addition you got a download code for these exclusives:
~ A commentary track featuring Kristin Hersh and David Narcizo
~ An instrumental version of the full album
~ Prepackaged mp3 and lossless versions of every track with embedded metadata, artwork and lyrics.
Taking it a step further, thanks to the fine folks of Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records, ‘Purgatory/Paradise’ is now out on vinyl. True, the 2-LP gatefold vinyl version doesn’t offer up the amenities which the original release did, but hearing ‘Purgatory/Paradise,’ one of the bands best releases in their nearly 30-year career, is priceless.
As an album, ‘Purgatory/Paradise,’ which takes its name from an intersection in Hersh’s Rhode Island hometown, is an exquisite collection of music from one of music’s finest songwriters, not to mention fellow Muses drummer David Narcizo and bassist Bernard Georges put in some of their finest work to date.
Hovering around the two to three minute mark, the songs are short bursts, which culminate into one cohesive album. The tracks, much like Hersh herself, are authentic, unrelenting and organic. At 32 songs, you could easily try to break this album down into rock songs and acoustic songs, but after listening to it, that task is virtually impossible. The songs have both elements mixed in. There’s even hints at a little blues and retro pop fused in. The tracks “Opiates;” “Sunray Venus;” “Milan;” and “Speedbath” are forceful rockers which ebb and flow between the other tracks. The Muses are at their best and ballsiest when they turn it up and rock out. Case in point, the two best songs on the album – “Slippershell” and “Sleepwalking 1.”
Hersh, Narcizo and Georges put in a lot of hard work and it pays off. The trio play flawlessly on ‘Purgatory/Paradise’ while, once again bucking the conventional in favor of real rock & roll.