The Melvins new album starts off with a rather ominous question: “What was that shit you sold me?”, from the song the ‘Bride of Crankenstein’. Indeed, it is the question every fan of the long running act can ask freely. Those who love their music heavy, heady, obtuse and downright confounding for over over 30 years can attest that every new album from this band brings different flavors to table. They have never made the same album, or song twice. Buzz Osborne and his first officer on the Federation Starship Melvins NCC 1701-X, Dale Crover have influenced many more bands than admit it. They have evolved from the creative outliers of a budding scene (Seattle, in the 80s), into the elder statesmen of sorts for bands of their ilk. No wonder Hold It In comes from Ipecac Records, a label full of like-minded, talented crazies. Joining Buzz and Dale for this outing are Paul Leary and JD Pinkus from Butthole Surfers. The pairs of musicians are a match in every conceivable way chemistry-wise, creating some unsettling and special tunes.
As you would imagine when these guys get together to create, things get weird, and in a good way. Odd riffs, whimsical songcraft and brave arrangements dot the tracks. From the dismal heaviness and driving riffage of ‘Bride…’, to the bright garage pop of ‘You Can Make Me Wait’, the trippy-proggy ‘Barcelonian Horseshoe Pit’, to the twangy stomp of ‘I Get Along (Hollow Moon)’; the inventiveness of each band is heard. It is definitely a sound and a feel of a Melvins album, with contributions from Paul and JD. You can discern a “Paul riff” here and “a Buzz lick” there and imagine the energy in the room when these four came together. Some of the touchstones here are sick amounts of feed-backing amp fuzz, phantom interludes, a few amazeballs solos traded, Floyd-ian space-rock tone-poems, and a rhythm section like a terrifying monstrous beast at times. All the propensity for weird-assed lyrics, and bizarro vocal deliveries (including ungodly shrieks from JD) all come to the fore as well. A little bit of something for everyone.
When it aims to be heavy, this is one of the heavier albums the band has put out of late, which says a lot considering the Big Business collaborations. ‘Onions Make The Milk Taste Bad’ and ‘Sesame Street Meat’ (two of the better titles this year) are gnarly as hell; true rockers. Another great cut, ‘Piss Pistoferson’ reeks of glam rock greatness, way down to the production value. They are getting their classic Kiss jones out, and frankly a Kiss song hasn’t been this good since 1991 anyway. The angular album closer ‘House of Gasoline’ sounds like it was more fun than should be legally allowed to have when it was birthed. A jam among jams.
The only shame is Leary’s distaste for the road means this lineup will only tour as a trio with Buzz, Dale and JD. Still, in reference to the opening line of the album, whatever shit they were sold, I want to buy some right now and I suspect you will too.