If you ask me, most all-star bands are a joke--indulgent and unfocused and never as good as the players' regular gigs. But every rule has an exception, and Free Kitten is just that: a big, bold, fun exception fronted by the reigning queens of art-rock, Julie Cafritz (Pussy Galore, STP, Action Swingers) and Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), and backed by Pavement's Mark Ibold and the Boredoms' Yoshimi. Sentimental Education offers proof that Free Kitten has evolved from no-wave feminist party band into a more grown-up and cohesive unit that can still spit out the occasional fuck-you.
This outing finds FK exploring a more droney, dancey, Can-tastic world, fueled by the unlikely fusion of chugging bass lines, hooks, and dissonance. They still bust out the random clunky punk skronk ("Picabo Who?") and one-note solos for which Ms. Cafritz is famous. And on several songs (especially the title track), Ms. Gordon imports her Sonic Youth influence--which, fortunately, is the late-'80s/pre-Geffen, brash-and-pop brand of Sonic Youth. Throwing in a wonderfully scattered DJ Spooky "remix" for good measure, Free Kitten have obviously done their homework on Sentimental Education. A-plusses and gold stars all around.