No history of American indie should be written without a chapter on Mary Timony, who managed to straddle multiple worlds—among them Boston’s college-borne rock realm and Dischord’s DC-based DIY scene—over the course of her early career. In the Boston band Helium, Timony took center stage, playing rock and roll that was anything but straightforward.
Timony’s fearless approach to her craft resulted in her forging a new path for the much-discussed “woman in rock,” one where a woman could nod to her femininity without hewing to outdated ideas of womanhood, and one where someone could not just play guitar, but could play with ideas of how the instrument should be approached. Timony simultaneously deconstructs and rebuilds riffs, searching for resolution but also savoring the journey toward it; with Helium, she pushed her technique and explored unconventional compositional ideas in-depth. The chug of “Pat’s Trick” was of a piece with the brand of ‘90s rock given the “indie rock” blessing, but Timony’s swallowing-itself solo and laconic vocal elevated the track, making it a head-rush of damaged beauty.