|Studio album by The Breeders|
|Released||May 20–21, 2002|
|Recorded||1999–2001 at Electrical Audio Studios, Chicago;
Grandmaster Recording Ltd., Hollywood
|Label||4AD, Elektra Records|
|The Breeders chronology|
|Singles from Title TK|
Title TK is the third album by the American band the Breeders, released in May 2002. In the four years following the group's second album, Last Splash, in 1993, several members left the band. From 1997 onwards, Breeders' singer and songwriter Kim Deal attempted multiple times to record tracks for a follow-up to Last Splash. In 1997, she spent time in the studio with numerous musicians and engineers, but her reportedly demanding standards, drug use, and other difficult behavior alienated those she worked with.
In 1999, joined by her sister Kelley, Deal began recording sessions with engineer Steve Albini in Chicago. She later decided that she needed a backing group, and by chance met members of the band Fear at a bar in New York. Fear members Mando Lopez and Richard Presley, as well as Los Angeles musician Jose Medeles, joined the Breeders. The group continued recording sessions with Albini in 2001. The output from the Albini sessions was supplemented with two tracks recorded in Hollywood with engineers Andrew Alekel and Mark Arnold. Ten of the twelve songs on the album are credited solely to Kim Deal; the other two were written by all five band members.
Title TK, which generated three singles, reached the top 100 in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and No. 130 in the United States. Critical appraisal has mostly been positive. Reviewers have noted the personal and sad feeling of the recordings.
Background and initial recording attempts
Between the formation of the Breeders in 1989 and the recording of Title TK in 1999 to 2001, the group underwent several personnel changes, with vocalist and songwriter Kim Deal the only constant member. Their debut album, 1990's Pod, included members Tanya Donelly and Britt Walford, who later left, replaced by Kim's sister Kelley Deal and Jim Macpherson by the time of 1993's Last Splash. Kelley Deal and original member Josephine Wiggs left in 1995, and Kim Deal formed the Amps as a side project. When she reformed the Breeders the following year, the group initially kept the Amps' line-up of Deal, Macpherson, Luis Lerma, and Nate Farley. (From 1989 to 1996, Carrie Bradley was also an occasional member.)
Throughout 1997, Deal attempted to record tracks for a forthcoming album. By this time, she had reportedly become difficult to work with, and had adopted very demanding musical standards for her bandmates. At least two of the former Amps—Macpherson and Farley—quit in 1997 due to the unpleasant atmosphere of the recording sessions, and were replaced by a series of other musicians throughout the year. The 1997 recording sessions took place at four different New York studios. This cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for studio time, hotels, and moving musical equipment between locations.
Not only various musicians, but also multiple recording engineers, quit during the year, due to Deal's difficult behavior and increased drug use. The first engineer that she hired was Mark Freegard, who had helped to record Last Splash. Freegard reports that Deal was "totally lost" and that after seven weeks of recording, there were no usable recordings. Two subsequent engineers, John Agnello and Bryce Goggin, had each worked in 1995 with Deal on parts of the Amps' Pacer release. Agnello quit the 1997 sessions after ongoing frustration, culminating when Deal disappeared for several days. Goggin was put off by Deal's "futile... standards"; when she was unsatisfied with a drumming performance (by the percussionist of the Flaming Lips) that Goggin thought was outstanding, he told her to go home and master the drums herself. Deal followed his advice, and went back to her hometown of Dayton, Ohio, to practice the instrument.
Subsequent recording and coalescence of the group
Deal took 1998 off from musical activity. She began recording again the following year, first in Austin, Texas, and then at Electrical Audio studio in Chicago with Steve Albini. (Albini had worked with Deal before on Pod, Pacer, and the Pixies' Surfer Rosa.) Although Kim Deal performed most of the instrumental parts herself at these 1999 sessions, Kelley also had some involvement. They recorded "The She", "Forced to Drive", and "Too Alive" in Chicago; Deal's drum performance on the latter track was from the Texas session.
Deal liked the songs recorded so far, but realized she would not be able to tour without a band. She went back to New York to look for a backing group in March 2000. By chance, she met members of the group Fear at a bar—drummer Andrew Jaimez, bassist Mando Lopez, and guitarist Richard Presley—and invited them to jam with her at the studio she was renting. Deal decided that she wanted to continue playing with these musicians, and within three months, moved to Los Angeles, where Fear was based. Soon after, Kelley also joined the new Breeders line-up. For much of the rest of the year, the ensemble practiced and wrote songs. Jaimez was involved other musical projects, and decided that he did not have enough time for the Breeders; he was replaced by Los Angeles drummer Jose Medeles.
The five Breeders returned to Chicago in mid-2001 to continue recording with Albini. "Little Fury", "London Song", "Off You", "Put on A Side", "Full on Idle", "T and T", and "Huffer" were recorded during the 2001 session. At some point in 2000 to 2002, the group also spent time at the Grandmaster Recording Ltd. studio in Hollywood, resulting in "Son of Three" and "Sinister Foxx"; the engineers at this session were Mark Arnold and Andrew Alekel. Kelley has stated that "Little Fury" and "Sinister Foxx" started as "just ideas" by her and Kim that turned into full collaborations by the group—all five musicians received songwriting credits on these. Kim Deal is credited as sole songwriter on the remaining ten tracks, although other band members contributed musical ideas as well. Another song from the Title TK sessions, "Fire the Maid", written by Kelley, was performed in concert in 2000 and 2001, but was left off of the album.
While recording Title TK, Kim Deal adopted a philosophy she calls "All Wave". This approach stipulates that only analog recording processes, and no computer manipulation, may be used. Deal has said that she likes "interesting mistakes" in song production, and that her beliefs about recording are "a reaction... to everything sounding so straight and clean in most records today".
Release and reception
Title TK was released on May 20–21, 2002. The phrase "Title TK", which is used in the "Little Fury" lyrics, means "title to come" in journalistic shorthand. There were three singles from the album: "Off You", "Huffer", and "Son of Three". The album reached the top 100 in Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, and peaked at No. 130 in the United States.
Critics, some of whom have commented on the sad and intimate character of the songs, have mostly responded positively to the album. Betty Clarke of The Guardian singles out the "separation of sounds" on tracks such as "T and T" and "Off You" as the best aspect of the album, and writes that Title TK is "a welcome return to punky pop that knows how to flex some melodic muscle". Rolling Stone's Arion Berger, while emphasizing the pain and melancholy present in the songs, praises the record as "absolutely beautiful". NME reviewer John Robinson hears the album as "tuneful... and impressively empty sounding, the arrangements of the tunes showcasing skeletal guitar and drum patterns and Deal's remarkable voice." Matt Cibula of PopMatters "really like[s]" Title TK, and opines that it sounds "buzzy and funny and swaggering in that special Albini uber-geek sort of way". More negatively, Spin magazine's Steve Kandell characterizes the album as "a little unsure of itself", and points to the Breeders' re-recording of Pacer's "Full on Idle" as evidence that "the creative coffers weren't exactly spilling over" for Deal.
All songs written and composed by Kim Deal, except where noted.
|1.||"Little Fury"||Deal, Lopez, Medeles, Presley, Deal||3:30|
|6.||"Son of Three"||2:09|
|7.||"Put on a Side"||2:59|
|8.||"Full on Idle"||2:37|
|9.||"Sinister Foxx"||Deal, Lopez, Medeles, Presley, Deal||4:16|
|10.||"Forced to Drive"||3:04|
|11.||"T and T"||1:57|
|13.||"Forced to Drive (Loho Version)"||3:15|
|14.||"Climbing the Sun"||3:58|
The following musicians performed on Title TK:
- Kim Deal – guitar, organ, drum, bass, vocals
- Kelley Deal – guitar, bass, vocals
- Richard Presley – guitar
- Mando Lopez – bass, guitar
- Jose Medeles – drums
|Australian Album Chart||42|
|French Album Chart||91|
|German Album Chart||91|
|UK Album Chart||51|
|US Billboard 200||130|
- Title TK liner notes (Japan)
- Albini 2002
- Smith 2002
- Klosterman 2002, p. 84
- Aston 2013, p. 556
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