Home Read Classic Album Review: Violent Femmes | Violent Femmes: 20th Anniversary Edition

Classic Album Review: Violent Femmes | Violent Femmes: 20th Anniversary Edition

Two decades later, the folk-punk trio's debut remains unbelievably mesmerizing.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


This self-titled debut from Milwaukee folk-punk cult heroes Violent Femmes first came out in 1983. When I heard it back then, I couldn’t believe my ears, and I suspect I wasn’t alone.

Now, of course, I get it — they just melded the boho playfulness of Jonathan Richman, the jittery paranoia of early David Byrne and the bleak literacy of Lou Reed with a musical melange of country, folk, pop, rock, gothic Americana (and a hefty helping of teen angst) to fashion new wave faves such as Blister In The Sun, Add it Up, Kiss Off and Gone Daddy Gone. But even if it’s easier to comprehend what they were after, it’s still hard to figure out how they pulled it off — especially armed only with cheap acoustic guitars, an oversized Mariachi bass and an upended bucket on a tom-tom.

Listening to this deluxe two-CD reissue, though, it’s clear the whole affair was no fluke. Along with the remastered original tracks, you get three dozen early demos, unreleased songs and live cuts that are every bit as idiosyncratic and mesmerizing as the rest of this now-familiar cult classic. Hear it for yourself, but I warn you: You still won’t believe it.