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The Breeders: Mountain Battles

C+

The Breeders

Album: Mountain Battles
Label: 4AD

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The Breeders' great skill has always been Kim Deal's ability to pull seemingly random bits into something cohesive, both within individual songs, and on an album level. On their fourth full-length in 18 years, Deal reunites with twin sister Kelley, as well as bassist Mando Perez and drummer Jose Medeles, from 2002's Title TK, with some of the songs recorded by Steve Albini. But without credits, it's easy to assume that Mountain Battles consists mostly of somewhat shaky solo Kim demos. There are exceptions, and they usually rock, after a fashion, as on the deconstructed classic-rock opener "Overglazed," or the cross-harmonies-led lurch of "German Studies." But while Deal's music has often been enhanced by its try-anything roughness, here, she sounds like she's just hoping something will stick. But most of it is too shapeless—from the Kelley-sung Spanish-language ballad "Regalame Esta Noche" to the vaguely Eastern "Istanbul" to the drowsy pop of "Night Of Joy"—to find much of a fit anywhere.