4AD - 2004 - 20 mins

A darling of the indie music scene in the 1980s and 90s as a solo artist and with Throwing Muses, Kristin Hersh opts for a change of scenery here with her new band, 50 Foot Wave. It's a fairly radical departure, because nothing from her back catalogue could prepare you for this. Sadly.

Joined by Muses bassist Bernard Georges and Rob Ahlers on drums, Hersh has never sounded angrier than she does on this mini-album. Yet who really cares when that anger is spewed out in throbbing guitars, stop-start rhythms, but not a proper tune in earshot. When six frenetic tracks are spat out in less than 20 minutes and it still feels too long, something is very wrong. To be fair, this sounds like an impromptu studio jam that ended up being taken far too seriously, but Hersh, if nobody else, should have known better.

For what it's worth, the closing song here, 'Dog Days', is the best. It is the only track that contains a glimpse of what 50 Foot Wave were (hopefully) trying to do, with Hersh - whose singing voice has never been particularly appealing - at least managing to sound like she's actually trying to say something.

Self-deluding Hersh devotees will probably tell you that 50 Foot Wave are a tight and tough trio. Quite simply, don't believe them.

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Bug - Clara Bow - Long Painting - Glory Weed - Lavender - Dog Days