Pacer by The Amps

By 1995, Kim Deal was in a rut. The Breeders were on hiatus, and Kelley Deal, her musical doppelganger, was in rehab. Kim Deal does what Kim Deal does, though, and that means booze, weed, and garage pop abandon. Pacer, the only release from Tammy Ampersand and Her Magical Amp Band, alternates sloppy and motherly like a rough draft for, well, post-hiatus Breeders. It's not that Kim Deal isn't capable of not playing like the Shaggs after a fifth of vodka, it's an aesthetic choice, and one that certainly ruins weaker tracks like "Empty Glasses". The mixing is just as messy—no, really, did a drive-by just blow through here? Because this one bleeds like a motherfucker.

In the end, though, the songs win out. The bulk of the tracklist consists of quality tunes that bring to mind fellow Midwest lo-fi enthusiasts Guided By Voices; in fact, "I Am Decided", one of the real highlights here, is actually built from two of their tracks. There's a beauty to this record that overloaded mixes and sloppy playing can't tarnish, most evident on the warm, bubbly fare like "First Revival" and "Bragging Party". Meanwhile, "Full on Idle" proves that even the punkier tracks, when focused, land pretty well (and spits cactus spikes in the face of the later Breeders version to boot). See, even when Kim Deal tries to make something ugly, it turns out lovely anyway. What a curse.

(Also, I have nowhere else to mention this, but "Tipp City" mentions "anonymous internet nations"—and this came out in 1995. Kim Deal was ahead of the curve, man.)


Essential: "I Am Decided", "First Revival", "Full on Idle"
Quintessential: "Pacer"
Non-essential: "Empty Glasses"

Rating: Great
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