Throwing Muses: Throwing Muses [Untitled] (1986)

Kristin Hersh has more than established her unique genius for stark and often shockingly moving lyrics tethered to challenging (yet at times still catchy) post-punk, with Throwing Muses' self-titled (or untitled?) debut wasting no time in setting up a template she has repeatedly reinvented with the band and on her solo albums in the decades since.

I'll admit that the debut isn't something I'll spin all that often, as it's not an easy listen; some later albums were willing to make a few more concessions to pop, though ultimately it's my homemade disc of highlights I turn to most often.  Still, the standout tracks on that debut -- which, sadly, does not stream on Spotify -- make it a savagely bold work in its own right.

The highlight, in and of itself a reason to pick up the album, is the simply breathtaking "Hate My Way," a song so gut-wrenching it invariably leaves me just a little messed up. As Hersh sings, in a voice that is absolutely stunning in its anguish, "Ask myself again... How do they kill children? And why do I want to die?"  Here's an audio rip of the song:
The other standout is "Vicky's Box," another one with a hypnotic guitar line and stark lyrics: "He won't ride in cars anymore/It reminds him of blowjobs/That he's a queer/And his hair stuck to the roof, over the wheel."  Damn.  Here's another audio rip:
A little less immediate but still entrancing is Tanya Donelly's lone contribution, "Green."
The album's contradictions are set up in the opening track, "Call Me," which is aggressive, almost abrasive, Hersh's vocals demanding attention; but then resolves into a coda that's pretty and embracing.
Anyway, it's an emotionally rough album throughout.  

Beyond the stirring lyrics and music, the album is bolstered by one of the tightest and most interesting rhythm sections in indie rock.  So while it may be a slightly more "challenging" listen than some of the band's later work, it is never anything short of captivating.

The album was later reissued with an EP and a number of pre-LP recordings as In A Doghouse, definitely the version to grab.  (Or you could just skip to the 2011 Anthology release, which includes "Hate My Way" and "Vicky's Box" amid other songs from their discography, though it oddly omits a number of their catchier singles.)

Again, it doesn't stream, but you can hear rips of the tracks on YouTube.

I'll leave you with a live version of "Hate My Way," shaky and blurry video but, still, damn.

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