Mudhoney – Vanishing Point (Sub Pop)
Out 2nd April
The fantastic Mudhoney and brilliant Sub Pop label celebrate 25 years of music with a ninth studio LP, Louder Than War’s Mike Brotherton has a listen.
Seeing as most bands slow down, burn out or lose anything you could reasonable describe as ‘edge’, you could be forgiven for letting the new Mudhoney album slip under your radar. But to a certain extent, I suppose that’s what they always did. Before the 90s alternative scene exploded, with a certain song about deodorant, Mudhoney were the darling of Sub Pop Records and the band everyone thought would cause a stir. Although hugely influential and lauded by critics and underground fans alike, they never really exploded, at least commercially. Perhaps that’s for the best, now both label and band are celebrating remarkable 25 year careers.
So, five years since we last heard from them, you might wonder what to expect from the ninth Mudhoney offering Vanishing Point? If you have been keeping up with their more recent releases like The Lucky Ones (2008) or Under A Billion Suns (2006) you’ll have a fair idea what’s coming. This record has the classic Mudhoney sound; fuzz drenched guitars, stooge-like punk with Mark Arm‘s distinctive laconic drawled vocal stylings. Of course the band aren’t as chaotic as their earliest, iconic realises like Touch Me I’m Sick but they’ve long since found a mature voice with which to vent their frustrations. And Mudhoney have always managed to do this with a subtle dry element of black humour. You have to laugh at song titles like Douchebags On Parade and lyrics like ‘Get the fuck out of my backstage… I hate you chardonnay!’ The later lyric taken from a fast punk number called simply Chardonnay, which actually gets relatively close to capturing earlier Mudhoney and Sub Pop bedlam! Elsewhere on the album Mudhoney explore some of their newer trademarks, like veering off into succinct jams like toward the end of opening track Slipping Away here lead by Guy Maddison’s bass line which exudes 70s grove.
Overall, this is yet another solid offering from a superb and undervalued band. Having taken a brief foray into the psychedelic with Since We’ve Become Translucent (2002), Mudhoney have returned to their punk routes which in some ways that’s a slight shame seeing as they haven’t really produced any surprises since. But that is not to say that they haven’t again produced a quality piece of work. Which, approaching middle age and after 25 years in an industry that has probably never truly given them the credence they deserve, is a fine thing.
All words by Mike Brotherton. More work by Mike on Louder Than War can be found here.