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Back With a Vengeance

The Breeders play The Fillmore

The nine-year delay marking the period between The Breeders' pop-perfect album Last Splash and the drug-induced mishaps that put the band on hiatus should really be no surprise. After a perpetually mobile cast of characters and a few barely sustainable on-again, off-again gigs, The Breeders - fronted by twin sisters Kim and Kelley - are more or less back on the road. Playing at the Fillmore Thursday, July 11, the saucy crew will feature songs from their new album, Title TK (4AD/Beggar's). Sure enough, just as the band reached the limits of infamy and oblivion after the alt-rock landmark Last Splash, their new album finds them in top primeval form.

One can't really classify Title TK as a comeback album. It's more of a modification, a peek into what made Kim and Kelley Deal rock in the first place. Formed by Kim in 1988 while she was still The Pixies' bassist, The Breeders plied a poppier, tastier platter of song than her other group's distinctively abrasive surf punk. Nevertheless, The Breeders' trademark use of ragged guitars and surfy tempos are pretty suggestive of The Pixies. Along with Throwing Muse's Tanya Donelly and Perfect Disaster's Josephine Wiggs, Deal recorded Pod with producer Steve Albini, and the band debuted to an impressive response. By 1993 The Pixies had split, Donelly had left The Breeders to form her new band Belly, and Kelley had hopped aboard as lead vocalist. Then in 1994 Kelley's heroin bust and ensuing rehab put The Breeders on hold. Kim formed The Amps, released an album, toured a few clubs, and vanished. There were rumors of a revival, but the rest is history.

Live, The Breeders' lo-fi loopy pop is said to be delightfully shambolic. But perhaps the most powerful quality about the new album is its stark, minimal tone. Of course, their easily recognizable melodic penchant is reeled in quite beautifully by the new backing band members, and the results are simple and unique. "Off You," with its languid thrum and slightly off delivery, is one of the gem tracks of the album. At the same time, the dynamics and vigor that made Last Splash such a winner are sadly lacking, and the majority of the tracks play out pretty tediously until later in the album with highlights like "Forced to Drive" and "Huffer." Nevertheless, Title TK is an grand musical statement that die-hard Breeders and Pixies fans will eat up happily.