Let no-one ever accuse the Breeders of being prolific – ‘Mountain Battles’ is their first record since 2002. Whilst many bands would simply sink without trace after such a prolonged period out of the public eye, Kim Deal’s status guarantees that she will always manage to attract attention.
‘Mountain Battles’ almost seems to make a conscious effort though to downplay the fuss with a production that is so low key as to be virtually anti-production. Initially too some of the songs appear to be little more than rough sketches of bigger tunes too. Taken as a whole it seems to be a deliberate ploy to force the listener to work at the record and in this day and age of fast consumption it is perhaps a risky strategy.
Fortunately MB is somewhat easier on the ear than the charmless production of ‘Title TK’ as it is a far warmer sounding record. It still takes a few plays to hit home though (I’d probably have had a different take on the record even a week ago) but when it does, it hits hard.
There’s plenty of typical Breeders style pop such ‘Walk It Off’ and ‘It’s The Love’ but ‘Mountain Battles’ is also the most varied Breeders record to date touching on country (‘Here No More’), Spanish balladry (‘Regalame Esta Noche’) through to the sparse but spooky title track which closes the LP. ‘Underglazed’ initially appears to be one of these sketches I talked about – a simple arrangement with minimal lyrics certainly but after a few plays it reveals itself to be much more than that.
It’s a good example of what this record is about – when you get to know it, it’s the tunes that prevail – however they are presented. This could be one of the best LPs of the year.
Here’s the lovely countrified track: