Were there any effective method for keeping your decades-old band from growing stale, an alternate lineup would be it. The lineup for Melvins Lite is Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Trevor Dunn. The three also have Fantômas in common—which makes perfect sense in the context of this record—and  serve as an alternate version of the Melvins, allowing them to release Freak Puke just three months after The Bulls & the Bees EP (featuring Osborne and Crover).

The funny thing about Freak Puke is how it plays out similarly to a jazz record, not only for its improvised feel and the use of Dunn's acoustic upright bass, but in that it's easily ignored at low volume, and suddenly stops you in your tracks when turned up appropriately. Much in the way jazz is often taken for background music at home and suddenly comes alive in a concert setting.

“Mr. Rip Off” is a somewhat sleepy start, leading the record into scattered phases, from that jazz feel to classic Melvins stoner rock (“A Growing Disgust,” for one); “Worm Farm Waltz,” a highlight, at first resembles Patton-style sludge and then transforms, about a third of the way through, into a heavy waltz that grasps the feel of the Pacific Northwest around 2005. When Melvins Lite aren't busy hiding Dunn and replicating their traditional work, much of this record actually reminds quite a bit of the final lineup of the Dead Science, what with their metal-oriented drummer, upright bass, and slinky, dark feel, at once nostalgic for the '90s but eager to evolve.

The record's actually at its best when Dunn's bass is highlighted—and why bother with an alternate lineup, otherwise? “Leon vs. the Revolution” could've easily fit onto The Bulls & the Bees, though effectively wasting Dunn's talent, and “Let Me Roll It,” its chorus shouted out and fit to be licensed for a domestic beer commercial, is dripping in too much masculinity to be the sexy makeout song or whatever it was when Wings released it in 1974. Yeah, I guess Wings had a sexy song. This material will make for a welcome break in the doom and sludge of their generation-long catalog when the band sets out to tour the entire U.S. over fifty-one days this fall. [Ipecac]

-China Bialos


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