The Breeders – All Nerve

All Nerve shrugs off any burden of a ‘come-back’ and becomes a truly rare thing: a wild, visionary, timeless rock album

Album Review by Katie Hawthorne | 27 Feb 2018
Album title: All Nerve
Artist: The Breeders
Label: 4AD
Release date: 2 Mar

'Good morning!' Kim Deal shouts on Wait in the Car, and it’s a yell designed to get your sorry ass out of bed. 'I got business! Strategy’s for punks!' It’s been ten years since The Breeders' last album, and 25 years since this exact line-up recorded their ground-shaking, platinum-selling 1993 LP Last Splash, but All Nerve sounds fresher than ever, reverberating with a giddy, reckless kind of thrill.

Song by song, Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson reconcile their differences and seek new kinds of authenticity in sobriety and maturity. But the album isn’t a modernisation of their sound, because The Breeders have always prioritised risk and vitality over any kind of zeitgeist. Nor is it nostalgic. Churning ballad Spacewoman examines the rigour and loneliness of fame, possibly answering questions about the band’s history in the process: 'When you look out at your big light show, do you ever wanna turn around and go?'

Kim Deal’s lyrics conjure an earthy kind of gothic; 'stale as a corpse', 'crush these beetles on my lips'. The hooks are muscular, carrying immense weight with total ease – on Archangel’s Thunderbird, Kelley’s guitar thunders across Macpherson’s skipped, rattling drums. Recorded straight to tape, All Nerve's audacity and talent reminds us how influential the Breeders remain. There are traces of Honeyblood, Waxahatchee and Chastity Belt in the title track’s expansive storytelling, splintered wit and desperate tenderness. Howl at the Summit’s surging riffs are backed up by Courtney Barnett and her band. Elsewhere, MetaGoth looks to the past – the eerie spoken word track is performed by bassist Wiggs, inspired by her mother’s poetry.

Neil Gaiman (!) writes in their press release that “Music slices us in time”All Nerve shrugs off any burden of a ‘come-back’ and becomes a truly rare thing: a wild, visionary, timeless rock album.

Listen to: Wait in the Car, Spacewoman, Archangel's Thunderbird