With nostalgia being the last refuge of the terminally depressed, it seems fitting that we should travel back to 1995 and a band whose lead singer who was diagnosed as schizophrenic way before mental illness became an essential facet of being a ‘celebrity’.
Throwing Muses were formed on the same fecund breeding ground as The Pixies, Belly and the Breeders, all bands that came perilously close to super stardom at one time or another but were maybe just a little too edgy and damaged for global mass consumption. We should be grateful they remained in the shadows, knowing what the light did to Kurt Cobain.
And ‘Bright Yellow Gun’ is perhaps an insignificant track when placed in the context of Kristin Hersh’s oeuvre. It’s a straightforward rock song without the loud/quiet/loud moments that defined the genre, but there’s sinister intensity to be found in it’s repetitive riffing, similar to the rhythmic thudding one gets when banging one’s head against a brick wall. It hurts, but the predictability of the pain is actually quite comforting.
Those not on prescription medication *may* not understand. But Hersh uses her music as catharsis, to rid herself of the demons she has obviously reconciled herself to living with until the day she dies. Mental illness is like this. It’s dark, it’s painful and totally misunderstood by the populace at large.
You might not like the sound of it, but watch the video and you have to admit, she means it. Which is a great deal more than can be said for most popular female vocalists.