The Muffs

Whoop Dee Doo

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The year 2013 was a bit of a roller coaster for Kim Shattuck; she was hired to play bass with the Pixies in July, only to be given her pink slip the following November, apparently because she was a bit too demonstrative on-stage for their tastes. But the silver lining is Shattuck's higher profile will likely encourage more people to check Whoop Dee Doo, her first new album in ten years with the Muffs, the band she's been leading since 1991, and this long-player shows she's better suited to running her own show than playing second fiddle in someone else's (even if the latter pays better). Whoop Dee Doo doesn't break much new ground for the Muffs, but it also plays to their inarguable strengths -- Shattuck can reliably write a mean hook, and her lyrics are witty with a goofy undertow that never descends into the silly (and on occasion can float up into the poignant), while her vocals are a playful growl that's tough, musical, and charming all at once. "Cheezy" and "Weird Boy Next Door" reveal Shattuck has a unique perspective on the not-so-fair sex, and "Where Did I Go Wrong" and "Take a Take a Me" confirm songs about relationships can actually be fun. (And whoever the subject of "Because You're Sad" is sure did something to get on Kim's bad side.) Shattuck is also a solid guitarist, reeling off plenty of chunky and energetic riffage, while bassist Ronnie Barnett and drummer Roy McDonald are a more than reliable rhythm section who can bash it out while still keeping the tunes locked on track, as they've been doing with the Muffs since Bill Clinton's first term in the White House. Whoop Dee Doo may find the Muffs happily doing what they're doing, but they haven't done it quite this well in some time, and song for song this sounds like the trio's most enjoyable album since Bigger and Blonder in 1995. And not for nothing, Whoop Dee Doo is the Muffs playing near the top of their game, and you sure can't say that about the Pixies' Indie Cindy, which suggests self-employment does have its advantages.

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