Violent Femmes: Hotel Last Resort
On their 10th studio album, Violent Femmes continue to pursue their signature sound with 10 new tunes, one cover, a credible remake of one of their oldies, and a disjointed, slightly ominous take on “God Bless America” that’s a perfect fit for these troubled times. Gordon Gano’s voice has lost a bit of its youthful yelp, but the lyrics are as sharp as ever and the playing is just as powerful as it was on their debut. Always a wise ass, Gano can’t help tossing in a little sophomoric humor. On tunes like “Another Chorus,” the album opener, and the penultimate track, “Sleepin’ at the Meetin’,” a rapmeets-gospel a cappella number, the joke goes on a bit too long, but the rest of the album is right up there with their best work. “I Get
What I Want” and “I’m Not Gonna Cry” are playful jolts of hook-heavy retro rock, with snarky lyrics and snappy rhythms supplied by Brian Richie’s bass and John Sparrow’s drumming. There’s a hint of klezmer in Blaise Garza’s soprano sax on the Greek band Pyx Lax’s “I’m Not Gonna Cry,” while the relentless acoustic rhythms of “Everlasting You,” a heartfelt love song, harkens back to the Velvet Underground drone that often marked the band’s instrumental work on their early albums. The title track is a tango, driven by the band’s minimal rhythms. Gano’s free-form exposition on lost opportunities is leavened by his pun-filled verbal bluster, Garza’s baritone sax and the inventive asides supplied by special guest Tom Verlaine, that moves from bluesy bent notes to icy, ambient slide-guitar glissandos.