The Melvins are as dense and crushing as ever on this new record they’ve made with Mike Kunka of godheadSilo. Three Men And A Baby chugs along at speed, a sludge-noise-rock juggernaut that isn’t going to slow down for you, or for anybody else. The album is available from Sub Pop, on a broad array of formats: tape, CD and vinyl in gatefold sleeve.
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Here are the Melvins, everybody’s favourite stoner shrug band, well known for their slow songs and rash decisions (“Prick, let’s just call this record Prick, kay?”). They’re joined by guest doom merchant Mike Kunka, best known for playing the bass bits and the singy parts in godheadSilo. Good for him; this collaboration had been on the cards for a long time, but someone rudely shuffled those cards, and it took time for them to get put back into order. The result is ‘Three Men and a Baby’, a record of stoner jams so in keeping with the genre’s idioms that they’re prehistoric.
It moves nicely, this record -- the crew are so used to making songs out of whingy riffs and grungy low-end that they just pelt through ‘em, moving from one to another with little showmanship. An occasional riff shows up everyone else in existence, such as the poisonous one that opens up “Limited Teeth” onto its hilarious lyric (“I don’t like your kids… but you do!”) and slightly invigorated tempo. The record is inflected with the Melvins’ signature approach to their host genre -- as is their unspoken golden rule, make your bummer tunes so they’re also funny, be it through squeaky riffs or self-aware vox. Kunka helps out by sounding something like a pantomimic nu-metal singer throughout.
Moments of respite from the one-note stoner distortion work their way in, such as the almost-ballad “A Dead Pile of Worthless Junk”, with its shimmering chimes, washes of cymbal clatter and foreboding sideways whispers. “Read The Label (It’s Chili)” sounds for a second like it could belong on the Rocky soundtrack before reverting swiftly back onto a noise rock trajectory of skramz and dimly toned riffs. In fact as the record develop it often sounds like the Melvins crashing into the discordance of Unwound (the non-starter “Dead Canaries”, which also has vocals that echo early Modest Mouse). The record isn’t much of a surprise, but sometimes it is, and that’s the perfect balance for a band as established in their sound as the Melvins.
Above all, though, they are being silly as fuck, celebrating themselves -- quite literally, as “A Friend In Need Is A Friend You Don’t Need” samples cheers from a crowd before they just fuck about with formless drumbeats and forgetting riffs. I agree: woo.
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