Even more direct and energetic than 2005's Ex Hex, Mary Timony shines on her Kill Rock Stars debut, The Shapes We Make. "Sharpshooter" and "Killed by the Telephone" kick off the album with the kind of spiky, smart rock some Timony fans have been longing for since The Dirt of Luck days; "Curious Mind"'s chugging guitars and whip-smart twists and turns nod to the Who. "Pause/Off" takes this sound in an expansive, politically minded direction, and features some especially withering lyrics ("You're a hot-shot?/Yeah, I know you're not/Hanging out in the CVS parking lot"). But while The Shapes We Make boasts an extra dose of rock, Timony touches on all the sounds she developed with Helium and on her own. "Rockman"'s intricate, languid guitars and chiming keyboards are quintessential Timony, as is "Summer's Fawn," which, with its awkwardly beautiful melody and rhythms, could fit just as easily on the Pirate Prude EP as it does here. But, even though songs like "Each Day" recall her earlier work (in this case, the brooding, keyboard-based sound of Mountains and The Golden Dove), overall The Shapes We Make feels fresh, particularly on "New Song," which closes the album with a collage of bubbly new wave pop and guitar heroics. The rest of the Mary Timony Band (Medications' Devin Ocampo and Chad Molter on drums and bass, respectively) follows Timony with an instinctive ebb and flow, and the results are some of her most focused, exciting work in years.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares