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After a break, during which the members of the Violent Femmes worked on solo projects, the band released its fourth album in 1988. The record is musically a much more basic affair than previous outings. The reformed Femmes focus on much tighter arrangements, abandoning the quirky instrumentation of the past and using only guitar, bass, drums, and occasional horns. Lyrically, Gordon Gano delves into even darker territory. “Nightmares,” the sedately paced folk-rocker that opens the album, offers only a suggestion of the twisted visions to follow. “Just Like My Father” places the narrator in his spouse-abusing father’s footsteps. Gano’s lyric, “I’ve been following women all afternoon,” introduces the full-on rocker, “Fool in the Moon,” before a 180-degree about-face with the stately, maudlin tones of “Nothing Worth Living For.” In the last third of the album, the horns make their appearance in “World We’re Living In.” “Telephone Book” sounds a bit like Johnny Cash performing an Arlo Guthrie song, and Gano’s aggressive acoustic guitar accompanies the not-so-veiled threats in “Mother of a Girl.” Wrapping up 3, the cheerful complaining of “Lies” gives way to the bleakly toned spiritual plea of “See My Ships.”

1. Nightmares
2. Just Like My Father
3. Dating Days
4. Fat
5. Fool In The Full Moon
6. Nothing Worth Living For
7. World We’re Living In
8. Outside The Palace
9. Telephone Book
10. Mother Of A Girl
11. Lies
12. See My Ships