Album review: Violent Femmes, “We Can Do Anything”

by Jon E. Lynch

Violent Femmes, “We Can Do Anything”

Available: Friday via PIAS America digitally, on cd and limited edition gold vinyl

I am generally wary of bands coming back into the musical fold after so much time has passed without releasing a relevant record. Sad, but true. In the case of the Violent Femmes, it has been a solid 15 years since releasing “Freak Magnet,” an album that was both critically and commercially panned. I’m not saying the Femmes have been totally dormant the last 15 years. There had been a smattering of touring until 2007, when the band hit a rough patch. Guitarist, songwriter and lead singer with an inimitable voice, Gordon Gano, and original bass player Brian Ritchie broke up the band after an interband lawsuit over music ownership, royalties and advertising rights. With the expressed intent of never releasing new music again.

Evidently, money talks. In 2013, the band reformed to play the Coachella music festival and has been touring off and on ever since.

“We Can Do Anything” marks the band’s return to the recorded ranks with a fantastic release of candid, acoustic-punk that made them icons of ’80s college radio. Tracks such as “Memory and Foothills” could have been B-sides from the classic self-titled 1983 release. With driving acoustic guitar and bass, rhythm and percussion was rounded out by former Dresden Doll drummer Brian Viglione (he has since left the band). The core is there, and that’s what counts. Solid, solid release marking a smirking, innuendo-laden and self-deprecating return. All in all, well done.

Recommended for fans of Violent Femmes, Elvis Costello, The Dead Milkmen, Talking Heads, Cake, King Missile, or classic College Radio.

— Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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