Melvins’ Basses Loaded is a pile-up on the motorway of music – Christ, such a mess of broken machinery and bloodied shreds.
The album concept involved collaborations with six bassists (including Krist Novoselic and Butthole Surfers’ J D Pinkus) to no discernible purpose. ‘Maybe I Am Amused’ is a rictus-grinning hoedown dominated by the yawning of an accordion; ‘Shaving Cream’ is goofy in the manner of teachers performing a skit in school assembly. ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ turns a hoary clichéd piece of crap into a hoary clichéd Blackpool pier organ piece of crap – one comedy song on an album, maybe, but three? None of which reward even one complete listen?
A further half the record consists of 30-40 year old riffage done better by bands who actually meant it: ‘I Want To Tell You’ is an inebriated Seventies rock demo; ‘Choco Plumbing’ rips off Soundgarden. Meanwhile, ‘Planet Destructo’ starts intriguingly then becomes a note-for-note cover of Spinal Tap’s ‘Jazz Odyssey’.
Is there anything recoverable? While ‘Beer Hippie’ and ‘Captain Come Down’ pass muster (by simple virtue of just sounding like decently average Melvins’ songs), the only true gold is ‘The Decay of Lying’, a sun-bleached tarmac-grinding rocker that plays out like The Dukes of Hazzard turned killer. “There was no screaming, only sleeping to wear us down,” is a meanly potent lyric – the entire song snarls bad intentions. It’s a reminder why the Melvins’ juggernaut is always worth anticipation, why I’ll be looking out for their next project, but also why Basses Loaded isn’t even a worthy tragedy. It’s an unheroic workaday error to be bulldozed into bushes by side of road and rightfully forgotten.