Reissue Review: Melvins, “The Bulls & The Bees”/”Electroretard”
So, here it is: the new Melvins record is actually a duo of Melvins records that already was. It’s interesting to see what the juxtaposition of the two documents, released herein by Ipecac, tells us about the group’s trajectory and “career” pangs. And, oh yeah, of course, full disclosure: it’s worth hearing it if you haven’t, like you needed that to be said.
The Bulls & The Bees, released first about three years ago as a Scion giveaway download of all things, is a fine slice of A Senile Animal-era quartet fun. (I’ll leave it to you to debate whether you want to call these B-sides. I’m 50/50 most the time.)
There’s well-timed Codey/Crover percussive thrust, fuzzy bass plumbage, and more than enough front-man fanaticism from Buzzo. Plain as day: songs like “War on Wisdom” rock, “National Hamster” grooves, and “A Really Long Wait,” though maybe intended as a semi-goof, is as somber, operatic and downright tragic as the group has ever sounded. (Is that goddamn cello? Downright effective stuff.)
Verdict: for the most part, it will kick you in the nether regions.
Electroretard? Other end of the spectrum. It hasn’t aged well in spots. Released as the 90’s bled into the aughts with some insane and probably not very PC Kozik cover art (not included here — sorry kiddos), this pseudo-EP was total art-rock experiment, kind of Prick-ish but maybe a little more joyous.
(Insert debate about the album-opening noise-mix “Shit Storm” here. My version/download and stream of the new disc, provided by Ipecac, had the “new” mix, which is not as good as the original EP’s take, but, again, we’re talking, for the most part, about an afterthought transition track, not the opus that binds. I say seek out both.)
Back into the fray, though. Yes, yes, on Electroretard, there was a total scorcher cover of “Youth of America” that challenges (some would say totally tramples) Nirvana’s “D7” for Best Wipers Cover mantle. But you also had great reworkings of “Gluey Porch Treatments” and “Revolve,” a chaotic “Tipping The Lion” and, oh yeah, a Bizarro closing take on “Interstellar Overdrive” in case you ran out of acid on your way home from work.
What’s surprising, though, is how dated some of Electroretard‘s electronics sound, how shallow some of its experimentation feels, and how much more well-oiled the quartet lineup sounds when you hold up Bulls and The Bees against its older brethren. It’s not clunky or bad, far from it. It just shows how well the band is aging. And that’s a thesis worth selling.