Melvins are my overlords.
Let me type that again so that you clearly know what I am trying to say here:
MELVINS ARE MY OVERLORDS!!!
For all I know, they could be my landlords too.
I am a Melvins devotee for life, and yet it truly hurts me inside that with them being one of my all time favorite bands, I have not seen them live. Hell, they played in a high school cafeteria in the town I live in ages ago, but this was before they made records. It is a crime, but I hope to one day be able to witness them in a live setting before they decide to stop performing and recording. I hope that doesn’t happen for a long time but you’re reading this and saying “fuck man, I just came here to read a review about the new Melvins album, I don’t want to read your pissy story on how you haven’t seen your precious overlords.” Whatever man. Whatever.
Freak Puke (Ipecac) is a unique album in that they’re also billing this as being “Melvins Lite”. The band have been a quartet for awhile, but now they’re down to three for this release. Melvins have a way of twisting how they make music and this time they’re down to three, which for many is “classic Melvins”, the trio vibe. Maybe for a future EP they’ll be a duo and call themselves Melv or something, you never know, but by removing one component for this album, they are “lite”. Does that have any effect on the music? Not really, but it seems as if King Buzzo, Dale Crover, and bassist Trevor Dunn have been dipping into their record collections to tap into a bit of easy listening, country, classic rock, and throwing in random experimental/avant-garde segments when they feel like it. With that said, Freak Puke is still a “sensible” Melvins album, some might say it has a slightly similar vibe to what they did on Lysol or Colossus of Destiny. Reasons? For one, this is a band that are known to be very heavy at any given moment, but aren’t afraid to stir things up and throw things into the mix that might make fans go “oh, what the hell is this?” but you accept it because they’re your favorite band. For one, there is a cellist on this album. It’s unexpected but when it’s heard, fans will like how it’s used. It could be a journey into what they all listened to as kids, or they simply wanted to try something that might be considered out of the Melvins-norm. Then again, anything out of their norm is the Melvins-norm.
I also compare this to Lysol because when that album first came out, I listened to it as one gigantic song. There was no track listing on the cover and I was unaware the album actually consisted of six songs, including two Alice Cooper songs. You can listen to Freak Puke in one sitting and kind of get a unified vibe with each of the ten songs, but the biggest surprise was hearing a cover of Paul McCartney & Wings‘ “Let Me Roll It”. Originally released on McCartney’s 1973 album Band On The Run, it was Macca at his rocking best with a riff that moved people, and Buzzo gets into the groove and salutes the song with power and strength.
Even for an album that is meant to represent a “lighter” version of the group, it still fits the Melvins mode, and that’s a good thing. Buzzo ripping and digging his guitar as if it’s a homeless person’s carbuncle, Crover’s drums occasionally sounding like Chinese foods, and Dunn bringing in both electric and acoustic bass elements into their sound (at times sounding like a jazz combo), along with a few quirky moments that fit in with much of what Dunn has done over the years. It’s nothing like their Prick album, but perhaps there are some extra songs from these sessions that could go along those lines. We shall see.
Maybe this album might come off as “freak puke” to some, and if so, good. The album has those familiar band trademarks, blended in with enough twists and turns that may make you wish more bands who have been around this long were as daring. I myself would love to play bongos on a Melvins 7″. I don’t know how I’d get there, but I’d find my way to do a mean bongo solo. Until then, I dwell in the stench of their puke… lightly.