Violent Femmes: We Can Do Anything

Triumphant return of veteran US oddballs.

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There have been a fair few testing times in Violent Femmes’ four-decade career, not least when bassist Brian Ritchie sued frontman Gordon Gano after the latter had sold advertising rights for Blister In The Sun to a US burger chain.

Somehow, though, after the break-ups and legal nonsense, they’ve endured. And it says much about the intuitive chemistry of the Femmes’ music that, despite any residual bitterness, they still sound bloody good.

Much of We Can Do Anything, their first album since 2000 and following on from last year’s Happy New Year EP, is a breezy return to what they do best: acoustic folk-punk with ragged edges, held together by Gano’s ear for a ringing melody and delivered like a peculiarly skittish Lou Reed.

Such is the deathless potency of Holy Ghost and I’m Not Done that neither would seem out of place on their classic 1983 debut, suggesting that, despite the advancing years, the Femmes have retained the innocent vigour of youth.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.