Since it’s historically been written by an invasive psychological persona called Rat Girl who writes and performs Kirstin Hersh’s songs almost against her will, her disjointed, impressionist lyrical imagery has often been as difficult to grasp as her cranky melodies. As a result, the ex-Throwing Muses singer’s recent practice of releasing albums accompanied by books of lyrics, photography, poetry and prose – a canny method of turning physical music releases into artefacts – throws welcome light on her troubled inner workings.
This 24-track double album of brittle, emotive folk pop and alt.rock, Hersh’s voice cracked and bruised by decades of familial hardships and mental imbalance, comes with a hardback book alternating lyrics with witty conversations about near-death experiences, real and imagined: bus crashes, earthquakes, street shootings, cocaine overdoses, onstage electrocutions, suicide attempts.
It illuminates askew yet adorable alt.folk tracks like fatalistic banjo lament Bubble Net, lopsided carnival lollops August and Sun Blown, a Hemingway’s Tell as cosmic as prime George Harrison, and a Green Screen as wonky as Patti Smith being thrown from Horses. Who knew death’s embrace would be so warm?