50 Foot Wave

50 Foot Wave EP

(Throwing Music) Last year, Kristin Hersh released two lackluster albums -- a flat Throwing Muses reunion disc and Grotto, a solo LP quiet enough to ignore -- instead of a single great one. Entirely removed from her solo career's unplugged elegance, 50 Foot Wave's self-titled debut EP is everything that the Muses' relapse should have been.

Backed by Muses bassist Bernard Georges, the downstroking Hersh shows off as a guitarist like never before, playing and writing like a self-loathing ex-punk who can't quite shake the habit. Hersh's head is still home to the volatile twentysomething who slugged her way from club to club, and the long-married woman sounds like she's keeping a tenuous grip on bipolar disorder.

Songs like "Clara's Bow" don't echo marital bliss: "I didn't use you/But I wish I had/I never liked you/But I wish I did." Hersh looks at her adult life as a betrayal, the family house as the scene of emotional claustrophobia: "You have a stone-cold picture of a girlfriend/And a celibate wife/You're in no shape to argue/But you're ready for a fight," she growls in "Bug." The name of her new power trio suggests an obliterating force of nature in sync with lunar cycles. That's Hersh. -- D.X. Ferris