Mudhoney’s ninth studio album is pretty much the same “return to form” they’ve been offering for a while now, well, certainly it’s as good as 2008’s The Lucky Ones. By sticking at it, carving out a path – and, presumably a living – Mudhoney still sounds like a grunge antecedent, like a slicker, happier Melvins, but also they’ve got their chops razor-sharp, so it’s not just all Stooges-aping fuzz and gunge. You think about the bands that have extended the garage-rock template to allow psychedelia and songwriting (The Black Angels) or killer rock’n’roll playing (The Greenhornes) and Mudhoney is right up there with them – plus they were here before Nirvana.
So it’s a good effort.
And though there are a few slight songs on Vanishing Point there are no clangers. It’s a super-strong opening with Slipping Away and I Like It Small and when it closes with Douchebags on Parade you realise (yet again) this band has always done pisstakes well, fucking with its audience while giving it exactly what it wants/needs/deserves.
The drumming of Dan Peters – the thing that gets this record off to its bucking start – is superb. Ditto Steve Turner’s guitar, punk-ish and snotty but with a soul to it; with character.
That’s exactly what Mudhoney does so well – provides character. The songs, the sound, it’s full, it’s packed with energy and cheeky humour and tight playing. Some of the songs are forgettable but that sound stays with you. They own it.
So, 25 years on this band sounds good as ever and they are back flying the flag on Sub Pop, back where they should be of course; back where they’ve been for the last decade.
With Vanishing Point you somehow know exactly what to expect/what you’re going to get – and there’s no disappointment at all. That’s what you want; that’s what you’re happy to have. And just 35 minutes – no need for the album to be any longer. They get it done.