The Meat Puppets are unique for two reasons. 1) They had really long hair but were good. 2) They made a kind of roots - influenced rock but were also good. This is their (oh I don't know) billionth album and it's perfectly titled for the kind of music they make. Leader Curt Kirkwood's son is involved making this a right family affair along with his dad and uncle. A nice family business.
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There was an awful moment in my childhood when the guy from a local record store recommended me and my dad Monsters by Meat Puppets. Well we both hated it and I dared not show my face in the store ever again. I therefore filed Meat Puppets under my ever increasing 'bands I hate' list (now of unfathomable length). But later I heard Nirvana covering a couple of their songs so I bought their earlier Up on the Sun LP which I liked a lot.
Bad start then but Meat Puppets didn't help themselves by having long hair in an era when I trusted no-one with long hair. Cut to several years later and a reconstituted Meat Puppets are back with their first album since 2013s Rat Farm. Listening to the opening track Warranty is like being pored into a warm bath. It's a lovely strummy thing that sounds like an updated the Grateful Dead having a bit of a fun lollop (and we all knew the Dead could have fun when they wanted to). It's just that sound of talented elders doing what they do well. Nine Pins has the same effect, with a cheesy keyboard riff giving way to a whip smart pop piece headed up by Curt Kirkwood's weathered voice. The horrid rock guitars that ruined Monsters and some of their later albums are kept in check but the band still make some eccentric arrangement choices. Check out the wandering harpsichord that flutters all over Unfrozen Memory making it almost impossble to concentrate on the actual song.
But this is Meat Puppets for you. Sometimes you feel they don't want you to like them and try to put things in the way but unlike a lot of their 80s/90s contemporaries, Meat Puppets suit being old. Kirkwood still has a fine way with an oddly constructed song and never has an album been better named. Their sun dappled, hazy desert - like sound suits is unique and captivating. They will drive you crazy at times with their idiosyncracies but despite all that they've made an album of truly lovely moments.
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