Reviewed by Heather Phares
Kristin Hersh’s third solo album Sky Motel finds her picking up the electric guitar again for a collection of mature, mercurial, parallel-dimension pop. The album fuses the restraint of her acoustic work with the lush textures of Throwing Muses’ later albums, adding Latin percussion and keyboards for a further update on Hersh’s signature sound.
A subtle and layered album, Sky Motel’s pop songs create the most immediately arresting moments. The album opener “Echo” pairs a jazzy electric piano with Hersh’s sweetly abrasive harmonies, then explodes into a riot of spiky guitars as she snarls lyrics like “I’m loving everybody/ I’m hating everyone I see.” “Fog” and “A Cleaner Light” mine similar territory, delivering the kind of angular, bouncy yet slightly menacing guitar pop that made Muses albums like The Real Ramona and University college rock favorites. Though the gentler songs on Sky Motel take more time to reveal their charms, songs like “White Trash Moon,” “Costa Rica,” “Caffeine,” and “Husk,” with their undulating guitars and quietly compelling vocals, make the album increasingly rewarding with each listen.