BY NOW the career path is well-blazed: Artsy British dance band records its first album for a small but influential label like 4 A.D. The record's never released in the U.S., but gets plenty of play on college stations and sells well as an import. When the band's ready to record again, American labels are a lot more interested.

That's the Throwing Muses story, too, except for one wrinkle. This sexually and racially integrated quartet is from Boston and recorded its new seven-song EP "The Fat Skier" in Rhode Island. Still, confusion on this point is understandable: The band's mix of clattering syncopation and artless vocals isn't exactly "Born in the U.S.A."

With titles like "And a She-Wolf After the War" and "Garoux des Larmes," "The Fat Skier" is not for those who bridle at pretension. When Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly warble simultaneously, the effect sometimes resembles the angelic harmonies of the Cocteau Twins, but can also sound dangerously like two out-of-sync Suzanne Vegas. The rhythm section keeps its balance even through the rough parts, though, enabling such up-tempo songs as "Pools in Eyes" and "Soap and Water" to dance right over their dubious sophomore-dorm imagery.


"The Fat Skier" (Sire 9 25640-1). Appearing Saturday at the 9:30 Club.