If ever an album was appropriate to its band’s name it’s this, muses thrown out over 32 tracks , traversing their very own “Inferno”.
There are many short tracks with fully formed pin-sharp alt rock like Morning Birds 1 (with it’s fantastic and fearsome opening minute it has an urgency that gives no time for explanation, the second half is more indie pop, the title as with most sounds like the title given to abstract art, they may or may not help understanding of the songs). The beautiful cover art also suggests an interest in, and influence of, abstraction. This is a band flexing their muscles, showing that they can exist at the plateaux of their indie peak with little need to explain, this is muscular Pop. Sunray Venus, for example, sprawls because it can, it has many facets. Rather than be to in debt to a jewellers design, some songs are imperfect crystals as nature intended but none the less beautiful for it. It’s something like the aural equivalent of an art exhibition, minor sketches follow large canvasses, the short fragments show the creative process and allow an idea not to be lost. Perhaps they show the creative crossroads at which an idea is discarded or makes it’s way to use in a full length song.
The many short tracks may prompt skipping in the casual listener but luckily there are a multitude of 3 minute plus gems to keep everyone happy. There is something cinematic about the flow of the tracks, short or long they seem to act like scenes, driving a narrative unknown to the listener. Sunray Venus is the first huge track, chugging beat, Cure semi-acoustic guitar and a scalpel sharp vocal. Freesia is dark Country Rock, riding out of the dust storm on a rough picked twang, disappearing off again into a heat haze. Morning Birds 2 is shortish and most like an old 80 s college indie, taking a step further with a Verve style string section. Lazy eye is exceptional – a shadowy drama lead in by a shimmering guitar, the lead vocal and vocal harmonies on the chorus taking flight.
When they rock they are imperious – look no further than the dark streets of Milan, with it’s acoustic verse and electric pre chorus riff, before it soars in said chorus. There’s a certain timelessness overall, this is an album that deserves a place in any collection of melodic alternative rock from the lates 60’s to now. It certifies that Throwing Muses are every bit as good as R.E.M. or the Pixies when they can be bothered.