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The Amps

In the couple of years after the Breeders record Last Splash, Kim Deal went home to the Midwest and drafted a few musicians to make a one off record of songs she had written, but were not for the Breeders. The result is Pacer, a record that is all Kim Deal. Her typical style screams from every track, sometimes a bit too loud. While there are plenty of songs in that Breeders style, some of them seem to be half ideas that need some fixin'.

"I Am Decided" is a perfect example of the "Kim Deal style." Comparing this guitar crunch to the Breeders material finds many sonic and structural similarities. Using the slightly tense guitar lead to offset the underlying groove set by the rest of the band. The chorus gives an added punch to the proceedings, and her singing meshes well with the whole package. "She's A Girl" follows the same premise, this time the sound is the sparser version of her psyche. Terse guitars and a cutesy sounding vocal line make this one quite enjoyable. The tinny sound of "Pacer" butts heads with a grainy vocal to produce a sweet cacophony. The chunky nature of the tune also adds the interest level of the number. "Full On Idle" is a full-on rocker. Using a steady trap set rhythm, and a clean but hammering guitar almost intone a rockabilly sound and feel. Kim uses more force in the vocal department to project over the din of the progression. The rhythm picks up for "Bragging Party," finding a steady stream to operate in. Deal and friends lay another lo-fi grind to out on the other tracks, and Deal gives another tunefully sung melody. "Dedicated" is solidly structured and could have been an outtake from Last Splash. Swapping between a noisy bashing and a smooth Deal styled progression, it's the longest tune and the best structured and laid out. One of the half-baked ideas is "Hoverin." Using a slightly out of time drum track, the disjointed number provides a place for labored guitar playing and Kim's mumbling. It just doesn't seem complete. On a pseudo-experimental side of things, "Breaking The Split Screen Barrier" opens with a repetitious series of guitar strikes, which become augmented by other instruments as time goes on. Eventually the drums and vocals bring the song together into proper fashion while keeping the entire repetition theme alive. They pull the all the stops for "Empty Glasses," a noise rant by a drunk. The loud guitar fury meshes with a drum track that sounds like it's gonna fall apart at any time, like the drunk in the song. Deal howls and screams her way through it to add another unstable element.

While not quite as worthwhile as a Breeders record, those hard-core folks who are looking for a Kim Deal fix should get their hands on it. The good tunes are good, but the half-baked ones are a distraction. If you're looking for a Breeders record, you won't quite find it here, hold out for the new one. Although Deal has good ideas, this record makes it easy to see how the other members add to the sound of the Breeders to make them as good as they are.

-tom topkoff

Track Listing:

1. Pacer
2. Tipp City
3. I Am Decided
4. Mom's Drunk
5. Bragging Party
6. Hoverin
7. First Revival
8. Full On Idle
9. Breaking The Split Screen Barrier
10. Empty Glasses
11. She's A Girl
12. Dedicated

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