Violent Femmes: Hotel Last Resort review – a meandering effort

Closing track best sums up the album, leaving you to wonder, who exactly is this album for?

Hotel Last Resort
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Artist: Violent Femmes
Genre: Alternative
Label: PIAS

To many, Violent Femmes will always only be the band who play that song (Blister in the Sun) at every indie disco you’ve ever been to.

Yet 36 years after releasing their debut (and what remains their defining) album, the Wisconsin band’s recording catalogue has finally arrived at double digits.

The various acrimonious splits, lawsuits and line-up changes that have happened in the intervening decades have apparently been remedied by founding members, front man Gordon Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie.

Here, they come together for another batch of their trademark short, strummed guitar-led songs, breezily conveyed by Gano – although his lyrics tread a thin line between lighthearted and cringeworthy on occasion (Sleepin’ at the Meetin’ sees him use the phrase ‘crappin in a napkin’).


Television's Tom Verlaine guests on the murder ballad-style rumble of the title track, while Paris to Sleep is more considered and less throwaway than most of the other tracks here, many of which sound like unfinished sketches. It's the closing track that best sums up this album, though; a tedious free-jazz take on God Bless America that leaves you wondering, who exactly is this album for?

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times