Six months ago I felt sorely let down by Melvins’ Basses Loaded album, but reassured that a band this creatively fertile wouldn’t take long to bounce back with something wicked. Ye gods, how true that feeling was!
Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover return with Crystal Fairy, featuring the wickedly wild presence of Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Mars Volta/At The Drive In). Apparently the idea came about on tour with Teri joining Melvins for a rendition of Riot Grrrl’s finest moment, ‘Rebel Girl’: that point of origin is near-tangible throughout this rip-roaringly energetic tumble. Teri is the full rock star – comparisons to Karen O, Kim Gordon, Courtney Love aren’t unfair but irrespective of gender it’s been ages since I’ve caught a voice in the pop-rock-punk stakes that can own ears like this: the urgent rejections on ‘Necklace of Divorce’, the sibilant stabbed words of ‘Drugs On The Bus’, there’s always something new going on without ever letting go of the intensity.
The drum-work, as ever, remains an impeccable blur of activity, both sufficiently heavy to rock and always original enough to create surprising movement within a song: try the title track for an example of how a drummer can dominant a song even over some urgent work from his colleagues – the introduction to ‘Posesión’ is pretty blinding too. Similarly, this is the most upbeat, fun and excitable Osborne’s guitar has sounded in quite a while. The weight and chug are recognisably his own but he’s straining for impact in a very welcome way. The only times the album lets up is on the excellently freaked ‘Under Trouble’ and the late album highlight ‘Sweet Self.’ Otherwise it’s all guns blazing, lights flaring and full pelt off the cliff-edge all the way down to hell.