The Austin Chronicle

Record Reviews

Reviewed by Ken Lieck, March 31, 2000, Music

Violent Femmes

Freak Magnet (Beyond/BMG)

Ask Davíd Garza about his Violent Femmes-inspired local trio Twang Twang Shock-a-Boom from a decade or so back, and he'll shriek and run away. Query David Byrne about his band Talking Heads, who in turn inspired the Femmes, and he'll likely shrug and go back to his latest mambo effort. So why are the Violent Femmes themselves still making albums? For the record, Freak Magnet is the Milwaukee trio's eighth full-lengther, not counting myriad solo efforts, best-ofs, and last year's live, acoustic hits disc Viva Wisconsin, and while "Blister in the Sun" was once a breath of fresh air with its youthful spark and enthusiasm, it's not the sort of song that necessarily signals career longevity. As such, the good news and bad news on Freak Magnet are one and the same: The band is still doing pretty much the same thing that they were in 1982. Actually, they sound fresher on Freak Magnet than they've sounded since 1986's The Blind Leading the Naked, with relentlessly up-tempo tunes and grinny, playful lyrics in ample supply. They'll probably never regain their position as Kings of Spring Break, but to use Freak Magnet's song titles to make a point, the "New Generation" may still find reason to "Rejoice and Be Happy" that the Femmes are back in the "Mosh Pit."


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