Blonder and Blonder
There’s no denying that The Muffs’ Kim Shattuck is a gifted singer and songwriter. Very few (male or female) songsmiths can cobble together a punk-pop tune as punchy, simple, and sing-songy as Shattuck, much less deliver them in such brutally fun ways; there’s real guts behind Shattuck’s vocal howls. On the band’s second album, released in 1995, the frontwoman masterfully distills honest themes of personal relationships and self-loathing down to bare-knuckle essentials and almost Ramones-like simplicity (“If you ever see me anywhere/And you know me/Please walk away”). Her voice shifts easily from semi-tender (the Kinks-ish “Sad Tomorrow” and the gentle epistle to manipulation “Just a Game”) to throat-spray needy (“Agony,” “Red Eyed Troll”). Shattuck sings the truth even if she’s mocking it—and she often is, as on the strangely graceful pop ditty “End It All” (which sounds a lot like a lost Jackie DeShannon tune by The Searchers). Irony or no, there’s real heart beating among the watertight rhythms and gusty power chords. Luckily, that year The Muffs had one of the best rhythm sections in rock ’n’ roll.