Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Throwing Muses

  • Throwing Muses [4AD, 1986] C
  • House Tornado [Sire, 1988] C
  • Hunkpapa [Sire, 1989] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Throwing Muses [4AD, 1986]
When friends turn psychotic, I withdraw. I haven't found black leotards sexy since I broke up with Sheila in 1962. I'm rarely persuaded that verbal dissociation reflects any social problems but the poet's own. So while I'm happy to grant the originality and even craft of Kristen Hersh's quavery free-form folk-punk, I'd do the same for the art of H.P. Lovecraft, Ana´s Nin, or Diamanda Galas. Fans of whom will pay more mind to Hersh's buzz than I do. C

House Tornado [Sire, 1988]
That collegians fall for this conflation of women's music and bad poetry proves how desperately both sexes yearn for anything that abrogates the male chauvinism of guitar-bass-and-drums tradition. Its virtues are all in the guitar, bass, and drums, which play off the melody line instead of mimicking or augmenting it and are only accompaniment anyway--meaningless without Kristen Hersh's personalized verbiage, meaningless with it. C

Hunkpapa [Sire, 1989]
Whether the more down-to-earth (hardly "pop") tunes and grooves here signal a Kristin Hersh head-change or simply create the right impression, the result's an evolution from bad poetry to obscure poetry--an improvement, definitely, but not the difference that will make the difference. B-