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Postpunk chanteuse Lydia Lunch sounds more vital than ever fronting the career-spanning Retrovirus

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While the very name of this project helmed by veteran singer and antisocial icon Lydia Lunch addresses a rearview-looking mind-set, its unexpectedly long lifespan speaks to the way the combo has evolved into something bigger. Flanked by drummer Bob Bert—an old-school postpunk drummer who served time in Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, and Action Swingers, among others—as well as guitarist and former Chicagoan Weasel Walter and bassist Tim Dahl, a pair as comfortable essaying punishing postpunk as they are lacerating free jazz, Lunch has improbably found the best, most enduring band of her lengthy career. Even though the material stretches back decades, it’s as vital and forceful as nearly anything she’s ever been involved with. Two years ago the group dropped a succinct album establishing its modus operandi: Urge to Kill (UgExplode) juggles songs from Lunch’s early 80s solo records as well as material from her great no-wave combo 8-Eyed Spy and collaborative efforts with folks like Roland S. Howard of the Birthday Party. The new performances up the intensity, which is only further heightened by the nasty rasp and sinister wheeze that age has visited upon Lunch’s voice. During a performance this last December in Paris—one which included a cover of Pere Ubu’s “Final Solution”—the singer proved that her world-weary humor in no way contradicts the ongoing misanthropy of her presence.   v

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