Review: Mudhoney – Vanishing Point
Published on April 6th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Big, sleazy riffs, big clattering rhythm section, Mark Arm’s acerbic speak-singing and wise-guy rocker routine: it’s a Mudhoney album, alright, the first since 2008’s The Lucky Ones and the band’s ninth altogether. Here’s a band that plays to its strengths time and time again, and fortunately for them their strengths happen to still sound awesome after all these years.
“Slipping Away” kicks Vanishing Point off with frenetic drum soloing and explodes into wibbly squalls of totally rocking nuttiness, making way for “I Like It Small” to blast proceedings into overdrive by escalating into a riotous group chant-along of the title refrain as piano and guitar climax together. Goodness knows what he’s talking about, but “And when I show my hand / You will finally understand / That I’ve got big enough balls / To admit I like it small” is tremendously entertaining all the same.
After the breakneck punk and disgusted cries of “eeeuuuccchhh! that make “Chardonnay” such a ball, “The Final Course” showcases the qualities that influenced Nirvana and the ‘Seattle scene’ in general back in days of old when knights were bold and MTV had only just been invented, and actually played music. Speaking of which, here’s the video for “I Like It Small”:
Cynical humour remains a key trait: “There’s no place like home / And I never ever wanna go home again” rants Arm on “In This Rubber Tomb”, bringing to mind the lines “Everybody loves us/ Everybody loves our town / That’s why I’m thinkin’ lately/ Time for leavin’ is now” from “Overblown”, Mudhoney’s contribution to the Singles soundtrack in 1992, while “I Don’t Remember You” begins with “You got up in my face at the grocery store / Slapped my back and gave me what for / “Hey man, I bet you don’t know my name” / I said, “No man, now ain’t that a shame?”.
Telling the story of running into someone he used to get wasted with years ago, “I Don’t Remember You” treads a fine line between funny and mean-spirited – ultimately, though, it wins out with such killer lyrics as “It’s a goddam pleasure to meet you again / Half my brain is missing and I don’t need new friends / I can’t keep up with the good friends I got / ‘Scuse me while I fill this shopping cart”. Besides, Arm also asserts “I don’t care if you think I’m a prick”, clearly quite sure of himself.
With good reason, too, as he’s on inspired form here: “I’m like the guy in the Devo song” he proffers on the hilariously bitter “The Only Son of the Widow from Nain”, and we’re then treated to “I sing this song of joy/ For all the girls and boys/ Dancing on your graaave” at the summit of “Sing This Song of Joy” before the fabulously titled “Douchebags on Parade” ends the album on an inspired, wired ‘n’ wonky note.
Some bands you want to change, other bands you hope never change. Mudhoney remain brilliantly in the latter camp.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Vanishing Point is out now on Sub Pop. For more information, please click here to visit Mudhoney on the Sub Pop website.