Reviewed by Heather Phares
Throwing Muses’ self-titled 1986 debut is still a startling collision of punk energy, folky melodicism, and Kristin Hersh’s mercurial voice and lyrics. The violent, vibrant mood swings on songs like “Call Me” are a testament not only to Hersh’s unique talent, but the elasticity of Tanya Donelly, David Narcizo, and Leslie Langston’s playing. Even if the volatile moods on songs like “Hate My Way” aren’t easily understood, they’re easily felt; the twists and turns “Vicky’s Box” and “Rabbits Dying” take are guided purely by the intense emotions they carry. Throwing Muses is almost as varied musically as it is emotionally, ranging from the scary punkabilly of “America (She Can’t Say No)” to “Stand Up”‘s angular, acoustic post-punk to the cathartic thrill of “Delicate Cutters”‘s unsettling folk. Donelly contributes the surreal, ethereal love song “Green”; even at this early point in the Muses’ career, it’s clear that she is a more accessible, straightforward songwriter, despite the care taken to make the song sound more like the rest of the album. A powerful debut, Throwing Muses puts the work of most self-consciously “tortured” artists to shame; its fluid, effortless emotional shifts may not make for the most accessible music, but they’re unquestionably genuine.