Perhaps the most overlooked album of the year is the newest release from The Breeders. This band, featuring former Pixies bassist Kim Deal, established themselves with their excellent output in the 90s. Both Pod and Last Splash have been labeled as classic indie releases. But many current listeners may not have experienced these albums. Thankfully, Mountain Battles offers an excellent blend of accessible musicianship and thoughtful composition to satiate the apatite of any rock fan.
The whole thing starts with a real blast; “Overglazed” is an excellent guitar song that absolutely propels forward. This thing ranks among the best openers of the decade, all but matching the Sonic Youth tune “Reena” for sheer fun. Then, the depth of the album comes into play. Both “Bang On” and “Night of Joy” represent enjoyable diversions upon the first listen. But after a second and third spin, each tune reveals more character, eventually painting very detailed sonic portraits. “Night of Joy” becomes a true gem through the interplay between guitar and vocals. The song ends on a sorrowful cry of “come home.”
Mountain Battles is on this list because of its collective strength. There is no one song that drags down the entire album, and there are multiple pieces that battle for best track. Certainly “Overglazed” bursts out in impressive fashion, but “Walk it Off” and “It’s the Love” both compete to hold your attention. It’s a solid effort with excellent open spaces left for contemplation. This is proof that an album doesn’t need overproduction to be great – it needs a soul and excellent songs. Mountain Battles has both.