A new Melvins album? I suppose it has been a couple of months, maybe even more. They’ve been seriously slacking!
Their latest incarnation is a total bass-fest, and continues both the theme of ‘Basses Loaded’ (2016), as well as the band’s propensity for unusual instrumental permutations, featuring as it does both ongoing Melvins’ bass player Steven McDonald (Redd Kross, OFF!) and Butthole Surfers’, and occasional Melvins’, bottom ender Jeff Pinkus on bass.
“We’ve never had two bass players. We’ve had two drummers and two guitar players so it makes total sense to now have two bass players”, says Buzz Osborne. “We’ll be taking this two prong bass attack on the road as well which should prove to be interesting.”
And so they join Cop Shoot Cop and Girls Against Boys and… there may be more, but it seems that if double drummers are rare (The Fall Murder Inc, Ministry, Pavement being examples that spring to mind before I’m fairly swiftly dry), bands with a brace of bassists are even less common.
Dale Crover describes it as “an experiment in the low end of the aural spectrum where we asked ourselves, ‘would it work?’ ‘could it work??’ ‘should it work???’ The answers were yes, yes and YES!”
Truth be told, Melvins have produced a body of work that’s got more bottom-end sludge than a sewage filtration plant, and you might be forgiven for thinking they had at least two bassists in the lineup as standard.
The title, as many will know, is a reference to Butthole Surfers’ ‘Locust Abortion Technician’, which is arguably one of their finest moments (let’s face it, ‘Sweat Loaf’ is little short of plagiaristic / referential genius. Perhaps because of this, the melodic 70s rock shtick of opener ‘Stop Moving to Florida’ arrives as something of a disappointment. Yes, there’s a bass solo, but the whole thing’s a bit too Golden Earring / Foreigner… at least until it goes all dirty, stompy, Butttholsey but with Adam and the Ants drumming a couple of minutes in. ‘Don’t Forget to Breathe’ comes on like Faith No More duetting with Queens of the Stone Age.
To complain that ‘Pinkus Abortion Technician’ seems to follow the increasingly accessible direction Melvins have been taking in recent years is to overlook the parodic pisstakery that flows through every melodic moment of PAT. They’ve never sold out in over 30 years, so making albums that have broader appeal now is simply their whim, and not to be taken as an indication of going soft.
Never judge a Melvins album by, well, anything other than itself, and certainly never at face value. They’re a law unto themselves, and if ever a band could truly claim to have spent a career making music for themselves, regardless, it’s The Melvins.