Another year. Another Melvins album.
Naming this after one of the greatest albums ever made (‘Locust Abortion Technician’) is either a very brave move, or a stupid attempt at humour.
Knowing Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, it’s probably both.
Although the appearance of Jeff Pinkus (Butthole Surfers) on second bass (with Redd Kross/OFF! member Jeff McDonald on main bass) could lend these proceedings an air of genuine weirdness that has been lacking in the Melvins’ recent albums.
So, let’s find out.
‘Stop Moving to Florida’ is a medley consisting of ‘Stop’ by the James Gang and ‘Moving to Florida’ by Butthole Surfers, and it works surprisingly well.
The laidback, sunny 70’s vibe of the James Gang is thrown into sharp relief in the second half with Buzz’s impression of a toothless hick (as opposed to the original where Gibby Hayes sounded positively mundane by his normal standards).
As an opener, it’s both pleasant, jarring and just a tad annoying. Undoubtedly what they were going for. So this record has promise.
‘Embrace the Rub’ is archetypical Melvins: indecipherable lyrics, short running time and the feeling that the whole thing is about to fall apart any second.
Notably, Buzz’s guitar is nowhere near as doomy sounding or as overpowering as it normally is (undoubtedly due to having to fight with two bass tracks in the mix), but the vocals and the piano line that runs through the whole thing add different dimensions to what could have been a throwaway track.
The end result is surprisingly enjoyable and bouncy. You never know, they might just pull this one off.
Lasting nearly eight minutes, ‘Don’t Forget to Breathe’ throws in Oriental riffing, farting bass (as described by one reviewer), brittle lead breaks and (almost) meditative mantra chanting.
Although it doesn’t succeed due to the clash between the Oriental and the heavy, it does demonstrate that the band are still happy to experiment, even if it means falling on their arses.
The acoustic ‘Flamboyant Duck’ has a cute hillbilly vibe going through it thanks to the banjo before going bass heavy halfway through. It’s not particularly memorable, but it works ok in the context of the album.
Two covers (‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by the Beatles and ‘Graveyard’ by Butthole Surfers) are stretched out to twice their length and are rather pointless. ‘Graveyard’ is a fairly straight cover (with the vocals being much more prominent in the mix than the original), while ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ is doomed up.
It is interesting to note that, out of eight tracks, two are covers and one is a medley.
Problems writing sufficient material, or further proof that they’re just fucking about nowadays because they know their fans will buy anything with their name on it? That’s up to you to decide.
I am pleased to report that it’s far, far better than the last few LP’s.
There’s less emphasis on the sludgy riffs and more on the vocals. However, the much hyped “two bassists” scenario barely adds anything to the songs.
I had envisaged that maybe McDonald would hold down the rhythm while Pinkus indulged in some Peter Hook style bass riffs. Alas, it’s not to be.
As well as this, the songs (while generally good) don’t stand up to the classics.
So what we’re left with is a decent enough “modern” alternative rock album that will sound good when the band sandwich two or three songs off it in their setlist, and will be promptly forgotten in two months.
In short, business as usual for the Melvins since 2007.
2 / 5 –Christopher Owens ::: 05/04/18