We Can Do Anything

Faux-underground media outlets pooh-pooh anything derivative of anything, because they employ boring people seemingly concerned with their status as arbiters of popular culture. (End rant.) As such, the Violent Femmes’ first studio album in 15 years is getting weirdly negative reviews noting worn similarities to the band’s 30-year-plus catalog of punk-folk pomp. We Can Do Anything may be titled thusly as a pre-emptive “fuck you” exhibiting a preternatural self-awareness some people might not recognize right away. And sure, album opener “Memory” possesses a more than passing resemblance in melody and rhythm to “Prove My Love” from their legendary 1983 debut. It’s still a good song. “Foothills” is secretly a song about masturbation à la the classic “Blister in the Sun.” So what? Brian Ritchie’s bass is still a crisp phenomenon, and frontman Gordon Gano is still as playful as ever on songs like the religion-fearing “Holy Ghost” or the murderous ballad “Big Car.” The band’s effectiveness at exhuming the essence of its cultural existence is inspiring. It may not be reinventing the wheel, but no one’s working with the same bouncy rubber as the Violent Femmes.