For most of the '90s, the Breeders seemed resigned to being just a part of alternative rock's mythology: a lightning-in-a-bottle success story that helped define the era's sound and spawned a classic single before disappearing into substance abuse and a severe case of writer's block. By the end of the decade, hearing new material from Kim Deal and company seemed about as likely as a new My Bloody Valentine album, so the fact that Title TK, their long-awaited return, exists at all seems more than a little miraculous. In a weird way, the long, long wait for them to resurface works in their favor -- at this point, it's welcome to hear anything from them. After a nine-year (!) wait, a new Breeders album is just a nice addition to what's going on in indie rock instead of its salvation. From its very name, Title TK (journalistic shorthand for "title to come") reflects this: it's a surprisingly low-key, self-effacing return that doesn't feel like an attempt at reclaiming Last Splash's glory. Instead, it blends the stripped-down sounds of Pod and the Amps' Pacer into a collection of strangely intimate, feminine garage rock. Steve Albini's quick- and cheap-sounding production throws a spotlight on the weathered, offhand quality of Kim Deal's voice -- which is more sandpaper than sugar nowadays -- as well as every quirk in the band's playing. Even revved-up guitar rushes like "Little Fury" and "Huffer" have a little vulnerability lurking around the edges, and on the sweet "Too Alive," it sounds like you're in the garage with the band. There's a fascinating duality to Title TK, from the way that nearly every song mixes and blends Kim's and Kelley's not-quite-identical vocals to the way it switches between sweet, playfully spiky songs like "Son of Three" and "Forced to Drive" and dark, mysterious tracks. With its brooding, druggy allure, "The She" recalls Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," and "Put On a Side" and the aptly named "Sinister Foxx" have a sexy menace that the Breeders haven't explored since Pod. "Off You," Title TK's first single, is about as far from "Cannonball" as the band can get, a dreamy, breathy ballad that sounds intimate but masks its feelings in beautifully cryptic imagery. Very much a take-it-or-leave-it work, Title TK doesn't even try to live up to fans' inflated expectations of what a Breeders album should be -- though the band may not have spent the entire nine years they were gone crafting this album, it feels like the only album they could make after such a long wait. Title TK isn't always a flattering portrait of the Breeders, but it is an admirably honest one.
Title TK Review
by Heather Phares