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The Muffs - Whoop Dee Doo

"Whoop Dee Doo"

Release date: 28 July 2014
The Muffs Whoop De Doo
17 July 2014, 11:30 Written by Thomas Ingham
After seeing Kim Shattuck tear it up first-hand with the Pixies last year, I found it hard to see why Charles and the boys showed the punk veteran the door after just six months. To my mind she injected some well needed attitude to a stodgier and mellower version of what was once a band of sub-three minute thrills. Rumours of her crowd-dives not fitting in with the Pixies image were abound, but as interviews show, the band wants, and to some extent needs, Kim Deal back - if only to tell Charles that tracks like “Ring the Bell” are dreadful.

Whoop Dee Doo is the first studio album from The Muffs in ten years, blatantly taking it’s title from Frank Black’s comments regarding Kim’s exit from the band; “There’s been a shift in the lineup, big woop-dee-doo”. Opener “Weird Boy Next Door” wastes no time in setting the precedent for the record – this is classic, old school pop-punk, the sort Muffs fans will take-to instantly. It’s clear a stint replicating Kim Deal’s backing vocals has done nothing to repress Shattuck’s guttural, gravely growls, which litter the entire record.

This is an incredibly live-feeling affair, with loud guitars and strained vocals at its core. Kim has never claimed to be a guitar virtuoso, but even by her standards “Paint by Numbers” and “Like You Don’t See Me” could be accused of being a little one dimensional. Thankfully “Take a Take a Me” shifts things up a gear, juxtaposing a retro, surfy guitar-line with more angst-ridden and humorous lyrics like “I’m gonna punch her out/and I’m gonna scream and shout”. “Up and Down Around” starts off with what sounds like a punk take on Oasis’ “Live Forever” drum part, but instead of a whiny Manc-vocal, the three-piece change direction and slip into a waltz beat. The dynamic doesn’t last long however, as “Where Did I Go Wrong” presents another wall of raucous and fizzy guitars; the backbone of The Muffs’ sound.

It would be a push to say this is a record of two halves, but there’s no denying the latter tracks on this release bring some much appreciated pop-sensibilities to proceedings. Shattuck manages to squeeze in “Get away from that/and the superficial, boring, condescending chitter chat” in the song “Cheezy”, perhaps the most accessible and enjoyable track on the album. Closing number “Forever” is an endearing, sweet lo-fi ballad, showing a more vulnerable side to the now married performer (“I’m happy/as happy as I’ve ever been… because of you/you’re the one I’ve been dreaming of”).

Despite what the album title first suggested, Whoop Dee Doo is far from bitter. Instead we are treated to a collection of refreshingly care-free and up-tempo punk; well-crafted and not at all pretentious. Shattuck has lost none of the fire that fuelled her 80’s and 90’s output. My only slight criticism is that I like my pop-punk with a little more chaos in the drum department, but that aside, this is as no-nonsense as it gets.

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