Violent Femmes are a folk punk band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The trio reunited in 2013 and, last year, released the promising EP Happy New Year. Since then, they have been working on their first studio LP in 16 years, We Can Do Anything.
The album begins with the track Memory, a great introduction and is definitely one of the best songs on the album. Its upbeat, but slurred vocals are greatly accompanied by acoustic and electric guitar, the backing vocals are quite endearing. Its cheerful sound contrasts the melancholy tone throughout the track. The song explores the thoughts and emotions felt when looking back at a past relationship, “I don’t remember” is the revolving theme, and the slight guilt that comes, with not remembering small details. I very pleasant tune.
The following track, I Could Be Anything is quite interesting in contrast to the latter track “Memory“. The goofy track about fighting dragons, becoming a knight, and then eventually a king. The upbeat song is obviously not a track to be taken too seriously. But it really is successful and achieves what it has set out to do. The folk ensemble carries the story along very nicely, an overall fun and enjoyable song. And Gordon Gano’s attempt to not laugh throughout is just on a whole other level entertaining.
And now for my personal favourite track on the album, Foothills. It begins with slurred vocals and a merry guitar complimenting the pleasant overall theme of the track. The chorus on this is absolutely fantastic, how could you resist joining along the with the vocal ensemble? There isn’t much else I can say about this track in particular; it’s mixed and conflicted emotions expressed throughout give the music an interesting edge, and analysing both instrumentation and lyrics may be slightly confusing for some, but it really opens the music up and getting to understand why the artists has chosen to do what they have done could change how you listen to that particular artist forever. This track in particular is very interesting in terms of contrast between instrumentation and lyrics.
The final track, I’m Not Done is probably my least favourite song on the album. To find a “least favourite” is incredibly hard on such a consistently catchy album. Though in comparison to the rest of the tracks on the album, this one in particular was just the weakest in my opinion. Violent Femmes, to me, are a band focused on stories and personal experiences, and this song just isn’t that. Though I must say, this is based on an individual basis. As the epilogue of the album, it works quite well. But I personally don’t believe I would stick this on by itself without the accompaniment of the rest of the fantastic tracks, but that is how it’s meant to be listened to. So take from this as you will, a great ending, but not the best song.
We Can Do Anything is a great, consistent album with some overwhelmingly catchy songs within it, its pros most certainly outweigh its cons. A fantastic reunion album from a brilliant folk punk band.