At 13 songs in less than 37 minutes, Mountain Battles, the first Breeders album since 2002's Title TK, happens quickly and, like their best work, almost isn't happening at all. In the end, it's all a dream, a moment that disappears when exposed to the light. Their most accomplished work has always had a half-finished quality to it, a deliberately sloppy indifference to conventional structure. Instead, they offer quirky, sublime moments where the Deal sisters, Kelly and Kim, harmonize and syncopate in odd measures while the band adds a few spare notes and the songs eventually unravel without ever getting to the point. That's exactly what "Bang On," the second track here, sounds like. And, in varying formulas, it's what the entire album amounts to. It's like someone took Exile on Main Street, removed the root influences and left only the funky weirdness until it could barely walk on its own.
"Night of Joy" chases Parisian pop. "Walk It Off" kicks it up a half-step for a street-walkin' groove. "Regalame Esta Noche" plays it straight as Spanish nightclub pop. "Here No More" heads up to Appalachia for some back porch simplicity. But "German Studies" centers on harmonies sung in, uh, German, while "Istanbul" sounds like the band passed out in the studio and then recorded their slowly waking moments. "No Way," meanwhile, is the sound of an army marching backward, while "It's the Law" is the sound of that same army marching forward with a robotic buzz-saw guitar worthy of Wire. And the title track closes things out with a lost-in-space weirdness that Brian Eno could envision on note cards but could never actualize without the Deal sisters to add their peculiar marks. The entire album sounds like a casual accident where the damage is actually immense. But no one's got insurance, so let's just the fuck out of here before someone gets in trouble.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.