Most folks who were into Nirvana are somewhat familiar with this Aberdeen, Washington outfit. Their trademark slow, brutal sonic attack was in place long before most of the world had heard of Nirvana. The Melvins did not really get their dues until Cobain produced 1993's excellent Houdini on Atlantic. They had a run of very good albums before going back into the indie fray, Amphetamine Reptile and Mike (Faith No More/Mr. Bungle) Patton's Ipecac label. After a trio of albums in just over a year their creative output, while bountiful, has begun to lose some of its luster. Their last album, The Crybaby, was mostly covers. Fun stuff but covers nonetheless. Now in 2001 we're given another album. Electroretard does have a couple originals but it's mostly a collection of reworked songs and a couple of covers.
Electroretard launches with the appropriately titled, "Shit Storm," four minutes of backmasking. While it may be fun for someone on drugs it pretty much bored me. "Youth of America" is a Wipers (another Northwest band) cover from 1981. It's easily the best song on the album. It has a real live jam feel to it. Usually I don't go for that kind of thing but the Melvins can do it so well that it sounds okay. "Gluey Porch Treatments" is a slightly reworked Melvins tune from '87. It's short weird and gets over quickly. "Revolve" reprised from their outstanding Stoner Witch album. It's trippy and loud at the same time. It's also another one of the good cuts on this album. A decidedly slow and plodding (read non-Cows-like) Cows cover follows in "Missing." It's certainly a different take. A nice loud and nasty version of the Melvins own "Lovely Butterflies," which first appeared on Honky, is next up. Full of weird electronic noise at the end. "Butterflies" seamlessly (more or less) flows into "Tipping the Lion," reprised here from Stag. It's not a bad version either. The weird one is next. "Interstellar Overdrive" is a Pink Floyd song from their trippy Syd Barrett era's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. At first this seems an odd choice. But if you go back and listen to the rest of the album over and over and hear the psychedelic overtones then you start to see how it actually ties the album together. That or how totally disoriented you've become.
The quality of the recording is outstanding. It's clear and full. Some purist might say over-produced but I think the sound quality really good. The bass throbs and the drums brutally pound you into submission. All the while the guitar trades between assaulting you and flying around you. It's not possible to overproduce an album that tries to almost be a prog-rock album. Which is one of the things I don't like about that genre in the first place. The Melvins are an important good band. I don't know what's going on here with two consecutive albums with no new material. It's easy to dismiss it as trying to get out of a contract but why would they do that since this is their first album on Kozik's Man's Ruin label. On the surface Man's Ruin would seem to be an artistic refuge. Who else would sign the Fuck Emo's? If not that then maybe they are just trying to fill in the gaps before they put out a proper album of new material. I'm not sure but as good as the Melvins are thematic cover albums just won't cut it. This is a much better band than that. Electroretard is decent but it's really for completist only. Newbies would be better served elsewhere.
- Shit Storm
- Youth of America
- Gluey Porch Treatments
- Lovely Butterflies
- Tipping the Lion