Back in the eighties & even nineties, the Violent Femmes made themselves a Generation X favorite with such catchy, ‘acoustic punk’ songs as “Blister In the Sun” and “American Music”. The twenty-first century wasn’t as kind, with shifting feelings in the trio (including a lawsuit from bassist Brian Ritchie over singer/guitarist Gordon Gano using “Blister” in an ad for Wendy’s), plus the unavoidable aging. Yet the band (with at least Gano & Ritchie, lawsuit be damned) has managed to put out their first new studio album since 2000, with We Can Do Anything.
Time may have aged Gano’s body, but not his voice, and everything on Anything is distinctly Femmes, from the strum of opener “Memory” to the strum of closer “I’m Not Done”. There’s even the group’s nerd-core hint of polka on such tracks as “Issues” and “Traveling Solves Everything”, plus their cheery ramble in “I Could Be Anything”.
We Can Do Anything does not have the signature singles that put the Violent Femmes on the map; perhaps only “Traveling” will become an audience request. But it is nice to see a band you loved from back when not just trafficking in nostalgia.