I use the annoying contextual quotes around â€œdebut,â€ because Crover has been down this road before and weâ€™ve been right alongside. San Francisco indie Boner Records released Melvinsâ€™ Dale Crover EP (in which Crover fronts the â€œbandâ€) way back in 1992, his side projects (thinking Altamont, kiddos) have given glimpses into his first-person narratives, and then there was last yearâ€™s Skins 12-sided EP. In short: there is no lack of precedence and pretense.
The thing thatâ€™s so enrapturing about the new record, all 20 tracks and 37 minutes of it, is how Crover keeps it feeling really fresh from start to finish. Thatâ€™s saying a lot for a guy who, as the drummer/backbone of Melvins, has been releasing an LP just about every year (and often more frequently) since 1987. The record has anthemic rock bits (â€œHillbilly Math,â€ â€œThunder Pinkyâ€), experimental drum compositions (the roiling â€œGiant Hunkaâ€™ Cake,â€ the awesomely studio-manipulated â€œChicken Ala Kingâ€), shimmery pop (the title track and “Little Brother,” which will take many by surprise) and at least one song â€“ the single â€œBad Moveâ€ â€“ whose leathery bass-and-drums groove will dig hooks deep into your cerebellum.
Toshi Kasai guests throughout, as does Croverâ€™s daughter (the shave-and-a-haircut violin of closer â€œVulnaviaâ€), but this is clearly a Dale Crover affair, and he performs just as admirably here on bass and guitar as he does on drums. And thatâ€™s saying a goddamn lot.
Melvins fans would devour this even if it were 60 minutes of silence but Crover, time and again, gives you a reason to be happy you slapped down your hard-earned dough for the outing. Hell, one minute alone of â€œBad Moveâ€ justifies the purchase; the song is that incredible. And the disc will leave an impression â€“ this is far from a solely experimental-leaning or masturbatory release.
Verdict? Fate might have a fickle finger but Dale Crover has ten nimble ones. I give it an A.