The Mary Timony Band
The Shapes We Make
Kill Rock Stars
It’s kind of interesting to hear where the various grrl acts of the ’90s have ended up after ten years’ worth of growth. Some, like Sleater-Kinney’s The Woods traded punk’s rage for classic rock’s epic thunder and collapsed under its weight, while others, like Liz Phair, seemed to give it up a little too easily to mainstream pop’s siren call. Her songwriting’s completely atrophied and, unfortunately, is still making records. Mary Timony post-Helium falls somewhere in the middle. She’s still quick with sweetened melodies, but they’re nearly always leavened with a glorious amount of progressive rock eccentricity which ensures Top 40 radio will never let them near the charts.
On tracks like “Rockman” and “Pink Clouds,” Timony and her backing band ease themselves through subtle passages where the guitars trawl for every effect imaginable and there’s a foggy atmosphere of uncertainty. The blurring is such that the line between verse and chorus are at times undefined. Still, the group pools their resources along the way to actually inject some “rock” into the noodling. Particularly on “Rockman,” the elliptical leads cut through the ether with a surgical precision.
Somewhat less affective are the more straightforward punchy power-pop numbers like “Killed by the Telephone” and “Curious Minds” which feel more like retreads of ’90s art-rock a la Sonic Youth than they add to Timony’s current prog-hybrid. If she could slough off all the trappings of her songwriting past and truly give in to experimentation, Timony could produce a monster of an album. As it stands, The Shapes We Make is another assured step in that direction.
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