An album proving that first impressions can be quite wrong
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 04/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"New Times is an entirely appropriate title for this most eclectic of albums from a most eclectic band. The Violent Femmes have changed quite visibly with the exit of Victor DeLorenzo and the entrance of Guy Hoffman on drums. I'll admit it took a few listens for this CD to really start appealing to me. There is a lot of experimental stuff going on here, with individual songs sometimes going off in about three distinct directions over the course of four or five minutes. The overall sound is markedly different in several places from what the Violent Femmes had done up to this point, with drums and deep bass beats often giving rise to a substantive, weighty atmosphere of surrealism and implicit melancholia. The guys have long played around with unique musical jam sessions of high strangeness, but they really indulge themselves on New Times. A number of instruments I haven't even heard of (e.g., noseflute, tranceaphone, theremin, baglama) figure large in the music. Several songs end with extended periods of cacophonous orgies of sound, but the most unusual of all selections is the song Machine. Here, Gano recites unusual lyrics about building a machine to take over the world while something akin to electronic synthesizers pushes the song along; much more than throwaway experimentation, Machine does offer a serious message roiling around in its deep undercurrents of frustration. Agamemnon is another unusual song, ending with Gano literally shouting in the background.
There really are some great songs included on this CD. Don't Start Me on the Liquor is a typically fun Violent Femmes opening number. New Times, Breakin' Up, and 4 Seasons have a modernized yet vintage Femmes sound to them. I'm Nothin' is spectacular, foregoing everything except Gano's voice and guitar in its presentation. When Everybody's Happy reminds me to some degree of Good Feelings from the band's first album; of course, there is a melancholy aspect to this "happy" song on Gano's part. The final three tracks are the best on the album, in my opinion. I especially love Mirror Mirror (I See a Damsel), which evokes a pretty tender message, at least the way I understand it, while really putting the band through the paces. There is both a folk music and polka feel to this one, and the energy and tempo of the song steadily increase as the track speeds its way along toward a frenetic release. Jesus of Rio seems to feature at least three entirely different styles of music and rhythm, making it a quite memorable way in which to conclude this unusual yet somehow compelling album."
The sound of something new
Zen Station | The Graceful Swans of Never | 01/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Technically, the Femmes' sixth studio album is no longer new in time, as it's reaching 13 years since its release. However, the SOUND is nothing like what you'll expect to hear. Think of the diversity of "Hallowed Ground" put with tunes that are ten times as bizarre. It's also a little bit less dark than that one. This is the result of guys who are trying something different and do well at it. My favorite track is "Amegmnon." I didn't find this record to be at all disappointing. It is interesting to hear the band use different tempos, styles, etc. There's also "Machine" which attempts a techno-industrial sound and with humorous results, "Mirror Mirror (I See a Damsel)" with completely un-contemporary arrangement. You may not like this record, but you won't find it boring. Unless you think that the artist should have distorted bass all the time, but why would you be here in the first place.
I feel like this record does show the true Femmes as much as stuff like "Why Do Birds Sing?" The difference here is that they are highlighting their quirkiness, and I thought that was part of the charm of the first two albums. And they bring it back on here."
Took time to realize this is one of their best
Drew | 09/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're new to the Femmes, rush out to get Violent Femmes and Hallowed Ground immediately. Those are the unquestioned masterpieces you'll never regret buying at any price. You shouldn't stop there because the Femmes definitely have a lot to offer with their later work, but you should definitely start there. New Times shows a maturing Femmes stretching out musically. The songs are diverse in style and construction, running a gamut from Gano's solo guitar and voice on "I'm Nothing" to the intense pacing on "I Saw You In The Crowd" to the hilarious electronic experiment "Machine" and the completely unusual "Jesus of Rio." I'm particularly fond of the moral angst and melancholy of "This Island Life." Somehow it all works. Honestly, it took me quite a while to fully appreciate this record. At first listen, I didn't like it very much at all. But it's really grown on me to the point where I consider it easily the best of their post-Hallowed Ground records. I could live without hearing the one song some reviewers here seem to live best, "Don't Start Me On The Liquor," but the rest of New Times has become essential music in my collection. If the idea of the Violent Femmes challenging themselves to expand in directions appeals to you, eventually you'll probably love this record too. On the other hand, if your reaction to later Femmes music is usually "Why can't they make more songs like Blister In The Sun?" don't surprised if New Times goes over your head."
Critics are dumb...
The Grainy Throat | Erie, PA USA | 07/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am extremely disappointed... Not with this phenominal cd, but with the idiot critics that consistently maintain the narrow-minded concept that the Femmes will never live up to their first album. This is a perfect example of how wrong that sentiment is. It opens up with a viscious punch in the junk ("Don't start me on the liquor. I'll drink it all down straight!") that's just as musically complex as it is fun to listen to. The whole album is the classic, bouncy, rhythm heavy Femmes I've come to love. It's far more diverse than their debut (as all of their subsequent cd's have been). Their first cd is more pop-driven, but by no means better. I am the proud owner of every Femmes album, except Hallowed groud (which is on it's way as I write this), including the Aussie import, ROCK!, and they all rock my socks off. Buy this. Buy it and love it."