Review: Melvins – Freak Puke


Freak Puke

Ipecac Records

The Melvins have a new record out. It’s called Freak Puke. It’s actually out under Melvins Lite because it features only King Buzzo On guitar, Dale Crover on drums and Trevor Dunn on bass. Here is my review.

Women with breast implants are more likely to commit suicide so says a 15-year study carried out at Laval University.  Some women can reach orgasm via breast stimulation. Money is made out of cotton not paper. 57 on the Heinz bottle represent the amount of pickles the company used to have. On average 12 newborns are given to the wrong parents daily.

If you raise your legs slowly and lay on your back, you won’t sink in quicksand. Rats can last longer without water than camels. For reasons unknown, a duck’s quack doesn’t echo. The earth weighs around 6,588,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, tons. There are only four words in the English language that end in "-dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

One of the mechanical sharks used in the original Jaws film was lost at sea. In Los Angeles it is illegal to bathe two babies in the same tub. In New York a license must be purchased before hanging clothes on a clothesline. In Youngstown Ohio it is illegal to run out of gas. James Brown convinced Al Sharpton to straighten his hair. The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds. If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and six days you would have produced enough energy to heat one cup of coffee. 

A pig orgasm lasts for 30 minutes. A cockroach will live 9 days without its head before it starves to death. Butterflies taste with their feet. Donkeys kill more people on annually than plane crashes. Walt Disney was afraid of mice. Turtles breathe through their butts. A snail can sleep for three years. The electric chair was invented by a dentist. Mosquitos have killed more humans than all the wars in history. 

So there is my review. If you ask why my review is this way, I’ll explain. The press release along with the Melvins new album Freak Puke has quotes of the band essentially shredding music critics. They use positive quotes about the band and negative quotes to display how much music critics don’t matter and how much they hate them. The Melvins even quote Lou Reed who said, “What kind of person WANTS to be a critic.” So in order to honor the Melvins wishes I have entered this review of the album because, good or bad, love it or hate it, the fact that I’m a critic means I suck. 



Now that we've appeased the heroes, here is the real review of Melvins' Freak Puke.

There are three stages to a band’s life. New, Established and Institution. Most bands spend their lives trying to transition from new to established and, once established, most bands die out or break up. Then there are those few that grow beyond just an established band and become an institution. These are groups so iconic that anything they do will be met with a reasonable amount of positive reaction and their music library has become bigger than the band members themselves. Creativity does not go hand in hand with institution. Metallica are an institution band that left creativity behind after And Justice For All. 

Another type of institution band is one like the Melvins. A crew that is always changing up what they do. They make very little money but have the respect of every music fan out there. The Melvins are the band the big bands bring on tour to seem like they know what’s up. That dedication to experimentation isn’t always perfect, sometimes it means that the group just does what they want and you’re either on board or not. That’s where the Melvins are and their new album Freak Puke is just them doing what they do. 

I say all this because those who get what the Melvins are about will dig Freak Puke and those who don’t will hate it. This doesn’t have groove jam classics like the albums Houdini or Revolver. It’s also not classic Melvins slow-grind work like Ozma or Gluey Porch Treatments. Freak Puke is Melvins writing whatever they want to and putting it out. This album is being touted as  “Melvins Lite” due to the stripped down band members. Instead of two drummers and two bassists, Melvins Lite is just King Buzzo on guitar and vocals, Dale Crover on drums and Trevor Dunn on bass.

Freak Pukeopens with “Mr. Rip Off”, which intros a lengthy string instrument noise section. Then Dale comes in with a light shuffle beat and Buzzo begins wailing on his guitar slowly as he sing-talks his way through random musings. “Inner Ear Rupture” is a lot of string instruments making noise, while “Baby Won’t Weird Me Out” brings out a Melvins mid-temp groove before devolving into Dale Crover doing his best drum deconstruction solo. “Worm Farm Waltz” has a standard Melvins structure to it. The beginning is a thick guitar riff that falls silent. Drums begin to play in almost a marching variation while vocals are chanted in a drone style. 

Throughout the album the Melvins step into their bag of tricks and produce some real gems. As always they pay tribute to their love of bands like Kiss and Iron Maiden, while never losing their experimental side. I really enjoy the slow burn of their cover of the Wings jam “Let Me Roll It”. As a twenty year strong Melvins fan, Freak Puke is another solid offering from a band that has yet to release anything that sucks. Is it as revolutionary as their other work? No. It’s Melvins doing their thing and inviting you to go along with it. 

So I’m brought back to my original idea. Melvins are now an institution band, one that plays what they want, record what they want and tour when they want. If you like it then great, if not, they don’t care. I’ll admit my expectation of absolute genius from the Melvins has dissipated some. I’m always interested in what they do but not always impressed. Freak Puke is a cool album with cool ideas and a nice sense of atmospheric tension but I consider myself a fan of the album because of the band more so than the actual music.