The Violent Femmes at one point and time were one of my favorite non- metal bands. "New Times" is the last album I checked out by the Violent Femmes. They have lost their drummer and now on this album have the drummer from the Dresdan Dolls on this album, though he is now out of the band and one of the dudes from Horns of Dilemma are playing the drums. The opening song finds Gordan Gano and Brian Ritchie doing their thing, it's just a much less inspired version of what their thing used to be. The rambling folk side has taken over here. "I Could Do Anything" has more of a country skip to it, but it is a far cry from "Country Death Song". They lyrics about fighting dragons are rather silly. This is way to happy and lacks the cynical lash that their lyrics use to have to offset some of the strummed cheer. Not sure why everything on this album is a sing a long. My wife just asked if this was System of A Down, so clearly it doesn't sound like their classic days and the zaniness is out of hand.
"Issues" makes more of an attempt to recapture who they once were. There are hint that they once had a more punk side on "Holy Ghost". They slowly warm back up into themselves. Gano was never the best singer, but put a ton of emotion and heart into what he sang and at least we get a fraction of that here. Things continue to improve with the more ballad like "What You Really Mean". It doesn't seem like they are trying so hard and it is just coming naturally. The folk country of "Foothills" finds the shoe almost fitting, but being forced on as they once again try to hard. The same could be said perhaps to a lesser degree on " Travel Solves Everything" . They sound like the same band, but is their heart really in it? "Big Car" comes even closer to taking you back to the late 80s, but falls short of bar they have already set for themselves.
The country jangle is a little more thoughtful on "Untrue Love", though the chorus has too many layers of vocals and arranged as neatly as they once were. The close with the upbeat "I'm Not Done" that couples Bob Dylan rambling with gospel, which Dylan himself has done before, but at least this feels a little more honest. I'll give this album a 7.5, so it's a far shot from "Hallowed Ground" or "Blind Leading the Naked".