The Muffs

The Muffs

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Kim Shattuck spent five years playing bass with the Pandoras before she left and formed a band of her own, and as a result the 1993 debut album from the Muffs is a bit like Shattuck's pop-punk version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass -- having spent years piling up demos for worthwhile songs that didn't have a home, Shattuck and her bandmates had plenty of winners to choose from, and though the Muffs could more than deliver the goods, it's the consistent quality of the tunes that really made this album click. The punky, downstroked guitars of Shattuck and Melanie Vammen and the crash-and-bash rhythms of bassist Ronnie Barnett and drummer Criss Crass were the perfect vehicle for Shattuck's songs, but it's the irresistible melodic hooks of "Eye to Eye," "Lucky Guy," "From Your Girl," and "Every Single Thing" that elevated The Muffs from good pop-centric punk (or punk-centric pop) to something that truly stood out. Shattuck also proved to be an astute and skillful lyricist, with a strong witty streak and a punk gal's snarky sensibility, but her take on relationships on The Muffs is significantly more articulate and heartfelt than nearly any of her peers -- it's hard to imagine someone delivering two breakup songs that hit their target as well as "Saying Goodbye" and "All for Nothing" while taking such strikingly different approaches, and it takes courage to wrap a song about stalking around a melody and guitar hook as addictive as "Everywhere I Go." The production by Rob Cavallo and David Katznelson is just a bit indulgent -- the album could have played better without the Korla Pandit organ interlude, the goofy wind effects track, or the 31-second Angry Samoans cover -- but they get the sound of this band down beautifully, and given how closely Cavallo would follow this production template on Green Day's Dookie the following year, one wonders if a few of these tunes could have been radio hits if Billie Joe and his pals had gotten there first and greased the wheels for an album of similarly hooky punk tunes. Time has been kind to The Muffs, and more than 20 years after its initial release, it sounds like one of the best and brightest albums to emerge from the '90s pop-punk explosion.

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