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Mudhoney Since We’ve Become Translucent

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Monday, September 16, 2002 @ 1:14 PM


(Sub Pop)

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Seattle Grunge Gods Mudhoney return with what is arguably their weirdest, most experimental album to date. Since We’ve Become Translucent is a 10-song noise fest that could best be described as, to quote my man Derek Smalls, a “freeform jazz odyssey.” If much of Mudhoney’s output is Stooges-style proto punk in the vein of, say, “Down On The Street” or “Raw Power,” that this is their “We Will Fall,” all swirling and dissonant and torn and frayed. Opening and closing with freakout jams just cements this spaced out approach even more. “Baby, Can You See The Light” rambles in the dark halls of Velvet Underground and Spaceman 3 and “Sonic Infusion” sound like an ode to Sonic Youth, with it’s droning guitar and distorted undercurrent giving way to breaks of punk rock drag-beats. Shoot heroin here…

But it’s not all long jams; most of the rest of these are short, to the point punk and roll tunes that we’ve come to know, love or hate from these dudes. “The Straight Life” is about as straight-ahead as Mudhoney gets, armed with a Stonesy riff, Keef-style backups and Mark Arms’ desperate wail. The lyrics sound like they could be digs at Ms. Courtney, but maybe that’s just me. “Where The Flavor Is” is a horn-laced boogie number that sounds like The Saints’ “Know Your Product” strained through a heroic dose of crystal meth. Sounds like something Austin Powers would dig. “Dyin’ For It” finds the band sticking to what they know, the classic Mudhoney sound -- metallic yet fuzzy, in pain yet upbeat, punk yet groovy. “Inside Job” throws some ‘60s pop bounce to the mix and “Take It Like A Man” uses the aforementioned horns to build a vintage rock swing number with old school Batman fight scene pomp. Crash! Boom! Bap!!! Yow!!!!

The sludgy “Crooked and Wide” and “Our Time Is Now” are probably the least bold things here in that they don’t stray from the path as much as the rest of the material and sound tame by comparison to the space jams and horn-y rockers. Likewise, the ballad “In The Winners Circle” comes off as pretty dreary in an already dark room.

This ain’t a pretty album, folks, but it has plenty of ambition and certainly finds the band switching off of auto pilot and drawing outside the lines. For a band that is hitting the 20 Year Anniversary mark in the not too distant future, it’s always a good sign to see their still pushing, still climbing, still reaching for something. THAT is the sign of a good band.

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