Talking to the Globe last year, Kristin Hersh made a prediction for what the next Throwing Muses album would be like. “You could call it a masterpiece, but you could also call it long-winded,” she said. “But it’s the record we’re allowed to die after making.”
The band’s frontwoman was right on both accounts. “Purgatory/Paradise” is the Rhode Island-bred band’s first new album in a decade, and it’s exactly what you want and expect from Throwing Muses at this point: gloriously jagged and ramshackle and at the mercy of Hersh’s vision.
The album was 33 songs a year ago, and it’s 32 now, yet it unfurls cohesively like a film. Mellow interludes, most of them under two minutes, connect to longer songs on which Hersh’s voice snarls and slices even the most innocent lyric: “Nothing’s perfect but the weather” is downright sinister in Hersh’s delivery.
This is not a linear listen by any stretch; you sometimes feel like you’ve just fallen down a rabbit hole from one moment to the next. But when Hersh, along with drummer Dave Narcizo and bassist Bernard Georges, burrow deep into a song, as they do on “Slippershell,” they summon the same ferocity they first unleashed when the Muses formed in Newport in the early 1980s. (Founding member Tanya Donelly contributed vocals to the band’s last release, 2003’s “Throwing Muses,” but she’s not on this one.)
Released by a publisher instead of a label, “Purgatory/Paradise” is a mammoth undertaking beyond the music. It’s an album packaged with a book of photography and writing and content you can access online — all of which was worth the 10-year wait. (Out now)