Article by KevW
Since initially forming back in 1980, Milwaukee's Violent Femmes have split and reformed on two occasions (as well as having a Spinal Tap-esque rotation of drummers), and 'We Can Do Anything' marks the first studio album of their latest incarnation, sixteen years after previous outing 'Freak Magnet'. It's safe to say that there's no massive stylistic change for the band, but that doesn't mean they sound in any way dated or stagnant. There's always been a freshness to their sound as well as a youthful enthusiasm which can sometimes border on immaturity, although that aspect is part of their charm.
It's comeback single 'Memory' that launches the new record and reintroduces their trademark skiffle-punk sound. With a certain jauntiness, a comparatively anthemic sound and an attitude that doesn't take itself too seriously, it's a track that stands up with some of their finest and will definitely go down well with long-time fans. 'Holy Ghost' is another that wouldn't have sounded out of place on their debut, along with 'Big Car'. Brass and nice harmonies give a little majesty to 'Issues' which shows Violent Femmes having a little fun with their writing and arranging (something that's par for the course really, see also 'Foothills', 'Traveling Solves Everything' and just about any other song). On 'Untrue Love' they channel classic mid-paced country-pop, but the result is much better than that sounds, and this spills over into lighthearted rockabilly closer 'I'm Not Done'.
The silliness does go a bit far on novelty tune 'I Could Be Anything' which is a little too goofy with its sound effects, stupid voices and characters that belong on a children's record, but this is the only time they overstep the mark. The trio show they can still do serious and poignant on the stand-out 'What You Really Mean' which holds a subtle beauty and introspection, perhaps marking it out as 'We Can Do Nothing''s 'Good Feeling' moment. You could say it's great to have Violent Femmes back and on such good form, but really it feels as though they've never been away.
Violent Femmes' website
Buy: 'We Can Do Anything'
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