Cool as Kim Deal

When I got to college, I found fellow indie-music lovers. At my high school, most people had never even heard of the bands I liked—one friend refused to get into my car if I was playing Björk. She said it made me drive all crazylike. Once I got to college, I found millions of people ready to argue the relative merits of Beulah or Granddaddy. I learned there's even a song called "Cool as Kim Deal," by the Dandy Warhols. I would dance around my room to the Breeders in my underwear, and my roommate didn't think I was weird.

The Breeders finally released a new album, Title TK, on May 21. The CD's mere existence is an accomplishment. Very few bands go on decade-long breaks and continue recording. But actually, Title TKis more of a frustration than anything else. In a lot of ways, it picks up where Pacerleft off. TK's first track, "Little Fury" begins with the same solo drum beat as "Tipp City" on Pacer. Both albums have 12 songs; both last about 35 minutes. Track eight on both is actually the same song, "Full on Idle," and I'm still not sure if this is a good thing. "Full on Idle" is my favorite song on Pacer—fast, hard rocking, deadly catchy. The new version is slowed down considerably, and about 20 seconds longer; it also has Kim and Kelley harmonies, which of course, was impossible on Pacerbecause Kelley wasn't there. In most cases, the sisters' harmonies are part of what makes the later Breeders great, but here, they detract from the tough power of the song.

Title TKis definitely the most sedate record the Breeders have made. They still have the same hard-partying mentality: "Title TK/If I don't black out." But the songs on TKare more sinister and toned-down. Highlights include "Off You," where Kim sounds sexier than I'd remembered. In a bedroom voice, she whimpers, "I am the autumn/I'm the scarlet/I'm the makeup on your eyes." I also like "Huffer," which harkens back to the old days. It's faster than the other songs, and more unintelligible—Kim just sounds so pissed, it's great.

Their mere existence is an accomplishment.
photo courtesy of Elektra Records
Their mere existence is an accomplishment.

Because of Kelley's drug-addled past, I never even dreamed of seeing the Breeders in concert. I figured they were one band I'd have to be content to listen to in the privacy of my own room. When I found out they were touring a couple months ago to support Title TK, I almost wet my pants. Kim. Live. In person. Holy shit. I bought tickets as soon as humanly possible.

A dank basement venue in Cambridge. Beer and cigarette grime on the floor. Graphic posters for other hip bands plastered over smoggy walls. Crappy opening act—ahhh, it was all ambience. I could have been in a port-a-potty, I would have been one happy duck. Kim came out first. She was kind of wearing a baggy poncho. Like she's so cool, she doesn't have to try to impress anyone with her clothes. Kim is so cool that she didn't even have a hair elastic. When her long, stringy hair would stick to her cheeks, she would ball up the loose ends of brown, and stick them into the back of her T-shirt. Before they started playing, I was nervous. What if they sucked? What if all my hopes and dreams came crashing down on their rocky guitar solos?

As soon as Kim played the first notes, I recognized the song as one of my favorites—"Doe," from Pod. It starts out all quiet, and then there's a major crescendo until Kim is shouting in her girly voice, "I walk to where he's sitting/It's all salty/It's all salty/It's good, It's real, It's pretty/It's all salty, Timmy . . ." Then, as if the blowjob is over, Kim whispers, "He said Doe, Doe, Doe." I was in heaven. Angsty, suburban, white-girl, orgasmic heaven.

There was even a moshpit. I totally got into it . . . well, sort of. I pushed a bunch of girls who ran into me, and then pretended I didn't. Until the last song, "Divine Hammer," I was truly blissfully high. It was a rush. It felt as good as if I were up there, singing and playing the guitar and the fans were all screaming for me.

After the show, I wrote to Joanna, who had just had her 30th birthday, and told her about the concert. I also e-mailed her names of some newer bands I was listening to.

Joanna wrote back promptly: "Dear Jess, Thank you for the old lady guide to being cool in 2002. I didn't even know the Breeders were touring again. Shows how much I know. I'm glad you had fun at the show . . . Love, Joanna."

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