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Reviews

The Muffs
Whoop Dee Do Julian Marszalek , July 28th, 2014 05:56

Checking out the live footage from the first flush of Oasis - then resembling five scallies who'd been given M&S clothing vouchers for Christmas – from Friday night pissheads' favourite The Word or Glastonbury '94, you find yourself encountering a Blade Runner moment as you freeze frame the screen to check for something that's not quite right. That seeming anomaly is the audience. Looking closely, what you see are plenty of kids with the floppy fringes of hair being grown to emulate Kurt Cobain a little too late, plaid shirts tied around waists and, in all likelihood, German paratrooper boots worn on feet. It's a sharp reminder that 1994 wasn't about Britpop or Cool Britannia – all that crap was to follow – and if anything, Whoop Dee Do – the first album in 10 years from The Muffs, does exactly the same thing.

The Muffs' Kim Shattuck is arguably best known as stepping into Kim Deal's shoes in The Pixies, only to be fired a few months later. The news of her departure was dismissively described by Frank Black as "shift in the lineup, big woop-dee-doo" which gives you plenty of idea as to where this album's title comes from. It's a move that'll undoubtedly raise more interest in The Muffs than they've had in some time, but one, – as exemplified by the crunching, if one-paced, nuggets contained within the album's grooves – that'll send the mind wandering back to two decades ago when it was all done so much better by the likes of Veruca Salt or Magnapop, to name but two bands from the period.

Not that anyone's expecting The Muffs to re-invent the musical wheel. Shattuck's guitar playing is dependably rocking with a sound that breaks up at just the right point and her hooks, coupled with a vocal style that veers from breathy to goofy to growling – frequently in the space of one song – makes for an enticing mix but ultimately these are songs that end up chasing their own tail to go nowhere special. There are some exceptions, most notably on 'Like You Don't See Me' and 'Forget The Day' which are two songs that, with the addition of a few weird chord changes, could've conceivably found themselves in Pixies' future repertoire, all too often the album lacks the requisite light and shade to make for a consistently enjoyable listen.

Whoop-de-doo, indeed.

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