Review Summary: In-depth analysis of Big Business' third album, Mind the Drift
Anyone who shuns this album because of it's apparent "reach for grandeur" or 'space rockiness' must not have a very good grip on what Big Business are about, or what they try to be. If one had seen any of their band pictures as evidence, most of which including the dynamic duo now trio stuffing their faces, then perhaps one would realize that this band didn't see itself with the seriousness necessary for a sludge metal act so ballsy it couldn't see its feet. The fact is, Big Business can do just about anything and do it right. Whether they're busting our musical nuts or making our musical eyes spin, Big Business cannot, or at least have yet to, do any wrong.
Of course, whether Big Business are "good" or not is purely a matter of opinion, and it's perfectly understandable that one might be a fan of their past low-end aggression and completely regret listening to this psychedelic exercise in stonerific sludge. However it is utterly ridiculous to condemn this album simply because it isn't as heavy as the Biz' last two. This album simply isn't that kind of album. It doesn't fail at busting your bowels. It simply doesn't try.
In fact, the only thing these three fellas seem intent on doing is creating a marvelously catchy, memorable, and quirky set of songs with enough cool songwriting gimmicks for at least three Melvins' records. Cases-in-point prevail from the first track on, with "Found Art" pummeling itself into a waltz-ish tempo that we should probably expect from the Biz by now, complete with Warren whispering odd little indiscernable phrases which would probably be completely absurd anywhere else. Of course, when it fades in, the instrument of prominence is Warren's distorted bass, and it's doing something unheard of: climbing down into grand melodicism that would impress Queen or Pink Floyd and still sounding damn serious about it. This song alone is jam-packed with enough completely obvious hooks to make your average album, and yet it sounds... grand. In fact, it almost sounds pretentious in its spaced-out sludge, but we know they aren't really that stuck up, right?
The next track, "Gold and Final", is every bit as good as the track before it and the track ahead of it. Indeed, this could be said about every track on the album (save of course for the first and last tracks). Whether it's the comfortable yet somehow foreign groove of "Cats, Mice" or the direct stomp of a title track, Big Business are serving something that seems perfectly accessible, if a little eccentric. For example, a track I've already mentioned, "Gold and Final", is the gloomiest song in the bunch but is remarkable in its musical relevance; Big Business could almost be called a prog band for this number, with a mournful refrain that manages to keep from being depressing, and a simply stellar songwriting that presents itself in every song etched into the back of this record. Even more eccentric is "Ayes Have It", another tune with delightful vocal harmonies that bring to mind a rather dank Beach Boys but with a piano. "Cold Lunch" is just another example of a dreary-yet-haunting tune; who, after hearing this song, doesn't find himself "hm hm hm hmm hmm hm hmm hmm hm hmmmm, go to sleep, go to sleep" after a listen?
As well as nearly flawless songwriting, this album has very rewarding production values. Warren's vocals are delivered and mastered with all of the roughness they need (which isn't much I might add) while still making some of his most memorable melodies, and his bass, while rather distant in the mix, is the fattest sounding instrument here, playing intelligible riffs that don't interfere with either his wails or the politely crying geetar of Toshi Kasai, a very lucky individual whose instrumentation adds as much to the music as almost anything else, especially in tracks like "The Drift", "Found Art" and "Gold and Final" where the guitar melodies are almost as memorable as Warren's. The most musically remarkable member of the band, Willis has a very tight sounding drum kit, and we get to hear plenty of it. His fills are as frequent as his groovy beats, and they lack the ferocious tendencies of a certain other metal drummer (who shall remain nameless), and I contend that this is certainly for the better. Even the samples are given a fair role, bouncing in and out of "Gold and Final" and finally leading "Cold Lunch" into the wonderful "Theme From Big Business II".
Big Business aren't trying to make a classic album. They are simply trying to create something that pleases the ears without showing a too-serious attitude, either by captivating them head-on or taking them for a gentle ride that somehow goes just where they want it to go. And they accomplish this almost perfectly. Where some see unjustified grandeur, I see a likeable method of crafting songs that never seems contrived or wasted. If Big Business' granduer was unjustified, they justified it themselves, simply by creating something that works. And this just makes me love the Big Big Biz all the more.
"You take the east and I'll take the west,
If we meet up in the middle then we'll know;
You start sinking, better grab an oar and row."