Growing up gracefully would seem to be a contradiction for a band as cheerfully vulgar as Mudhoney, but there's no mistaking that the members of the quintessential Seattle quartet are comfortable within their own skins. They know what they are, they know they're not gonna change their stripes, not even as they glare at middle age right in the face. If anything, they revel in being crotchety old gits on 2013's Vanishing Point, pledging allegiance to garage punk, dropping references to long-gone pop culture phenomena, happy to wallow in their misanthropy. And, unlike on the preceding The Lucky Ones -- released way back in 2008; the five-year wait is the longest between Mudhoney records, signaling the band's slow descent into middle age -- Mark Arm's savage wit is on full display, as he scrapes himself against all manner of modern irritations. Arm rails against "Chardonnay" popping up on a backstage rider and people acting like long-lost friends, gets revolted by the "Douchebags on Parade," facetiously sings a song of joy and feigns positivity on "What to Do with the Neutral." As he sneers out his disgust, Mudhoney stomp out blitzkrieg rockers and Stooges dirges, working within their wheelhouse but gamely stretching out, encompassing hints of blues and elastic slide guitars. It is, in other words, a Mudhoney album through and through: no outright surprises sonically, but beneath the roar it's hard not to admire how their perennial piss-takes are subtly deepening and how their saturated superfuzz always sounds so good.
Vanishing Point Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine