Violent Femmes 'We Can Do Anything'
American punk rockers Violent Femmes released 'We Can Do Anything' on 4 March - their first album in 15 years.
Kicking off a collection of 10 tracks is single 'Memory'. It was written many years ago as a demo and ironically forgotten until the band went digging through the archives. However, they refreshed it to replace teenage turmoil with middle-aged musings.
Through the medium of American bluegrass and skiffle mixed with lo-fi garage rock, frontman Gordon Gano shakily rattles through lyrics about not being able to remember simple things like the sound of someone's voice, what they said or anything about this person.
It's unclear who this is about - a lost lover, a friend left behind or a beloved family member? What is clear is the angst, regret and pleading for this person to return in order to correct the wrongs.
This is a visceral song nearly everyone can relate to. They say time is a healer, but while it may take away initial feelings of hurt, guilt, remorse and unhappiness, it takes with it lovely memories and may even stoke up fresh feelings grief. This is the track's backbone - arousing emotive sentiments through something precious and irreplaceable, our memories.
It sets the tone as title-track 'I Could Be Anything' ups the tempo with chest-beating lyrics about slaying dragons, a feeling we've all had during a confidence crisis when we need to have a strong word with ourselves. This leads to the grumpy 'Issues', which uses nursery rhyme rhythms to state "I don't want to hear about your issues, they're yours".
'What You Really Mean' again strikes a very evocative chord about the breakdown of a relationship. It's melancholic and melodic.
My favourite track is 'Traveling Solves Everything'. As a traveller I can attest it doesn't, but something can be said for getting away from it all and gaining a fresh outlook. It's also brilliant in its theatrical, childlike fun.
Providing the perfect round-up to a poignant and authentic body of work, the album ends with 'I'm Not Done' (they are, no hidden tracks here), which is another tale of a failed romance where the fading embers of love still burn.
'We Can Do Anything' is an introspective, toe-tapping journey. Much like their older stuff, such as ad man's favourite 'Blister In The Sun', every song is an infectious ditty, packed with heart-felt, frank lyrics that tap into the human condition.
Some artists try to convey this in a clever way, like Radiohead. Others do it in a traditional way, like Adele. Violent Femmes do it a no-frills, accessible, fun way. If you're into complex musicology, this isn't for you. If you love wordsmithery and thought-provoking prose, check it out - you won't be disappointed.