Monster Magnet


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By his own admission, Monster Magnet frontman and songwriter Dave Wyndorf works better when faced with a tight deadline, so he once again took the drastic action of sequestering himself in a seedy motel room when churning out material for his band's eighth studio album, 2010’s Mastermind, came down to crunch-time. What he emerged with is arguably the New Jersey retro-rock veterans’ most down-to-earth song collection per square tonnage since 1998's Powertrip; meaning that fans won't find very many signs of the billowing feedback fog heard on Magnet's supremely wasted debut, Spine of God (which literally left listeners feeling as drugged as a bona fide acid trip); no swirling space rock dark matter à la Dopes to Infinity (the greatest Hawkwind album Hawkwind never made); and certainly none of the unnecessarily clean production sheen applied to God Says No (one of the group's rare disappointing efforts). What's more, Mastermind may be the band's doomiest album ever, as evidenced by the snail-paced stupor of LP opener "Hallucination Bomb" and numerous laid-back offerings thereafter, including the title track, the haunting "When the Planes Fall from the Sky," and the Doors-quoting "Time Machine." Among the livelier tracks: "Bored with Sorcery" locks up Hawkwind's pulsing riffs and nerdy sci-fi chants into the Nuggets garage; "Gods and Punks" patiently, mercilessly pounds listeners into submission on its sonic killing floor; and the excellent "100 Million Miles" boasts a growling bassline worthy of Lemmy (in fact, there are several such bass intros here, almost making it seem like Wyndorf mistakenly packed a four- instead of a six-string for his motel sojourn). And yet, despite the somewhat sedate vibe throughout (by MM standards, at least), that sly old lecher Wyndorf still has a flirt or five or fifty left in him, given his wild-eyed proselytizing from "Dig that Hole"'s pulpit, and the fact that he can still spin a mighty fantastical nonsense yarn more convincingly than Stan friggin' Lee; even invoking the Fantastic Four during the cinematic mood music of "The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby.” So, at the end of the day, Mastermind may not boast any irresistible hits and doesn’t always go for the jugular like other Monster Magnet albums past, but it is incredibly compelling in its own fashion and, most importantly, reliably entertaining, which is something that’s increasingly lacking in new millennium rock & roll.

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