Review Summary: Ween being accessible?!?! WTF!?!
Ween making a more accessible album? No. It just can't be! I will rip off my left testicle before I hear that album! Giving it a chance would be blasphemy, and I know in my heart that Ween haven't sold out to the "man". No, sorry ass-holes, Ween still rock my ***ing balls off.
That last sentence is running though my head as I listen to one of the most unjustly hated Ween albums. In all actuality, this album is not only listenable; it still has that Ween-sheen. Now, I have heard several people gripe and moan, saying that this is the sound of Ween's selling out, that they have lost what truly made them a unique band. Don't trust those idiot morons. This is classic Ween alright, and it is a very enjoyable album.
Upon first run through, one might notice the lack of excessive swearing. Dean and Gene Ween are famous for their potty mouths, I mean, hell, they used to use *** or *** in almost every other one of their songs. This is really not that much of a surprise. Just a listen to the 2 albums released previous to this one (Chocolate and Cheese and The Mollusk), the obscenities have been going downhill in their usage. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The comedy is still there, though. Just look at some of the lyrics at my personal favorite song off of the album, Pandy Fackler.
"Pandy Fackler was a working girl
Living alone in another world
Of picket fences and a white façade
Sucking dicks under the Promenade"
Okay, upon reading some of the lyrics they might seem juvenile and unfunny, but when sang under its cool, jazzy, atmosphere, Ween make it a very entertaining song. Plus, if you are thinking anything made by Ween is ignorant and juvenile, you are going into this band with a very bad mindset, and will probably hate everything that they do. The best thing to do when listening to this album is to just sit back, relax, and let the beauty and amazing instrumentation wash over you.
The best news I can give is that the song arrangements and musicality is as great as it ever was. They can absolutely rip it up on guitar and practically every song of the album has a guitar solo, that almost makes we want to learn it (almost). Another comment I must say that I believe is usually left unsaid amongst Ween reviews, they are damn good at programming beats. Simple, yes. Effective, YES!!! It is very rare that I listen to a band and cannot think of how to make the music any better. They know their way around instruments, which is in their best fortune, because they use plenty of them throughout this album. There are layered pianos (Pandy Fackler), steel drums (Bananas and Blow), and even sitar (Flutes of Chi). It can be argued that several albums do that, and it should barely even be considered experimentation anymore. The catch is simply that many of those other bands cannot touch the sheer beauty these songs create due to their masterfully created soundscapes, via Ween.
With the exception of the hard rocker Stroker Ace, this album is very calm and soothing atmospheric adventure. Stroker Ace is a phenominal song, but in all reality, should probably not have been placed on White Pepper. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and brings a jagged break in the overall calming feeling. It could have been placed intentionally by Ween, as it is in roughly the middle of the album, but I highly doubt it.
With the exception of a few, the songs sound like they could be taken directly from the popular music of the 60's and 70's. Hell, Even If You Don't sounds exactly like an Eagles song to me. The longest song, Exactly Where I'm At barely lasts four and a half minutes. They are more straightforward, a little bit less technical, but eaisier to get into. Think of The Flaming Lips with a more classic rock sound, and you have bassicly summed up the feel of how it sounds.
Overall, this is a great album that should be purchased if you are a Ween fan. I wouldn't suggest this to be your starting album to get into them. If one makes pre-judgement that they are going to sound like this in any of their earlier albums, they are in for quite a surprise. Just give it a chance, you won't regret it.
4.5/5 - Great set of songs that have good feel, and lead for an enjoyable listen.
3.5/5 - Not really the crazy cursing wildly experimental Ween you are probably used to.
Overall - 4/5