The Violent Femmes have had to live with writing a classic album their entire career. Their self-titled debut hit a chord with disaffected youths. The problem with writing such a standout debut is that is can be hard to live up to the past. We Can do Anything, the Violent Femme’s newest album is enjoyable without having the spark of what once was.
The Violent Femmes haven’t been able to remain consistent with their songwriting, and We Can Do Anything continues with this consistency of being inconsistent. The first track is Memory with rolling bass, nasally vocals and juvenile lyrics mixed with maturity. This a track that grabs the listener. Memory is well written, showing that Gordon Gano still has songwriting ability when he wants to. The next track up is I Could Be Anything, a folkish polka tune without fear. A silly song about an underdog fighting a dragon. A bit country, a bit of a hoedown, a bit of a waste of time. It is a fun song but one that drags on too long. Holy Ghost summons Lou Reed, sounding thoughtful and quick. The Violent Femmes maintain their talent of putting together an alternative pop song, with the slow break in the middle a good addition to the track.
What Do You Mean is soft and soulful, sounding like the Violent Femmes are reaching deep into themselves and sharing vulnerabilities with the listener. Again, this is a track that shows what the Violent Femmes could have been without their inconsistency. Traveling Solves Everything is a fun song that reminds the listener not to sit still, but it’s possible that instead of running the members of Violent Femmes shouldn’t have run away from well-documented band issues (Like the lawsuit between members regarding the commercial use of Blister in the Sun).
All in all, We Can Do Anything shows that the Violent Femmes can do most things. The good, the bad and the ugly. They’ll never reach the heights (Or depths) of their debut, but they can still make being a geek fun.