Melvins

Electroretard

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Their first release since the intense and ambitious Bootlicker/Maggot/Crybaby trilogy, the Melvins' Electroretard feels like a playful reward after a successful but laborious delivery. With the exception of the introductory "Shit Storm," four minutes of noise that sounds like a Melvins track recorded backwards, this album is comprised entirely of covers and revisions of older Melvins tracks. As the album's title suggests, the new versions have been completely re-recorded with a powerful emphasis on electronic effects. The revision of "Revolve," for example, which first appeared on Stoner Witch, replaces the chorus' impassioned vocals and driving power chords with a barrage of staccato electronic tones. In addition to electronic tinkering, King Buzzo's vocals are consistently more sedate on the revisions, as his impassioned and enraged primal screams are replaced with an equally emotional but more somber delivery. This difference is perhaps most pronounced in "Gluey Porch Treatments" (a revision, in fact, of "Bitten Into Sympathy" rather than Gluey Porch Treatments' title track). On the remainder of the album, the Melvins put their distinct signature on tunes originally recorded by Pink Floyd, the Wipers, and the Cows (bassist Kevin Rutmanis' alma mater), with tremendous results in every case. The Wiper's anthem "Youth of America" is particularly driving and maniacal in the Melvins' hands, while the Cows' "I'm Missing" (simply titled "Missing" on this album) is rendered somewhat haunting by King Buzzo's sedated vocals and the conspicuous absence of guitar feedback that was so prominent in the original. Those who have remained intrigued with the Melvins' tortuous stylistic experiments will find Electroretard rewarding, but those who find them at their best with the crushing onslaught delivered by an album like Stoner Witch may find themselves somewhat dismayed. While the revisions at times disappoint when contrasted with the originals, King Buzzo's vocal stylings on this album add yet another dimension to a band that's constantly refashioning itself. The electronic experimentation, on the other hand, is intrusive and difficult to assimilate at first, but easily becomes an organic part of the songs on subsequent listens. "Youth of America" practically makes this disc a worthwhile investment on its own, for seasoned Melvins fans and new listeners alike.

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