Kristin Hersh’s legendary art-rock band Throwing Muses return for their 10th studio album. A change in direction from their last outing Purgatory/Paradise seven years ago, a fidgety and restless affair, Sun Racket is becalmed and monolithic, characterised by rising and fading walls of guitar noise.
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I need a drink. ‘Sun Racket’ is an album that is dry and arid and sun burnt. The guitars and the drums and Kristin Hersh’s vocals (which have so much character) are completely devoid of moisture. It gives the music a leanness, an efficiency. But also makes it wizened. Some people avoid standing in the sun for too long to avoid wrinkles, Throwing Muses just don’t care.
The album is split between the calmer and more intense tracks. ‘Bywater’ is serene, with poppy “lalalala” backing vocals and a broken chord guitar line. ‘Milk At McDonald’s’ is a gentle churn anchored by a patient and disciplined shake of the tambourine.
‘Bo Diddley Bridge’ meanwhile has guitars that sound thick in the way that Jack White’s often do. They’re used to incendiary effect, against a rigid drum beat. There’s also the thrilling ‘Frosting’ on which Hersch sings that "in heaven / maybe / they don’t call you / crazy” over hard grooving rock that brings to mind some of the Afghan Whigs more tortured songs.
‘Upstairs Dan’ is enjoyable for how strange its guitars sound. Reverby wave upon wave that never stop feeling dry, it’s hard to picture anything but sand blowing in the breeze. The song is anchored by a bassline, just hidden from view. The emotional foundation, after all, the wise man builds his house on the rock.
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