To me, The Melvins Discography resembles three piles of steaming dog excrement, laid upon a bed of unblemished snow. The three steaming, tightly coiled dog excrement are their albums the are sub-standard, or merely average. The albums occupying this location are Houdini, Prick and Colossus Of Destiny. All their other works are the bed of snow: each album is a snowflake, unique and almost perfect in it’s own way. Electroretard decends and becomes part of this bed of snow.
Melvins formed in 1982, and named themselves after a colleague at work that they hated. The original line-up was King Buzzo, Mark Dillard, Matt Lukin. Mark Dillard was soon replaced by Dale Crover and he has been the drummer ever since. Matt Lukin was kicked out, and The Melvins have since had a host of different bassists. At the time of Electroretard’s release, it was Kevin Rutmanis, originally of The Cows.
The Melvins started as a sludge band, but after perfecting this in 1991’s Bullhead, they evolved into about one hundred different genres of music, while still retaining thier original heaviness. On Stoner Witch and Honky, they experimented with ambience. On Stag, they dabbled in Bluegrass, psychedelic pop and chipmunk voices. Electroretard, needless to say, features different kinds of music, and smashes them into one lump of sheer brilliance. They incorporate so many different styles on this album, you would think they were written by totally different artists, but they manage still to preserve a Melvins feel. The styles range from the punk rock slant of The Wipers Youth of America, to the pure psychedelia of Pink Floyds classic Interstellar Overdrive. Electroretard, as the title suggests, features a substantial amount of electroretardedness. It may not sound like your cup of tea, however it is used fantastically and fits in perfectly with the mood of the album. The alternative version of Revolve, from Stoner Witch would be so much worse without the electronic blips and bleeps, as would Tipping the Lion (from Stag). The Melvins have abandoned almost all of their usual heaviness on this album, instead rooting for their self-stylised ‘dirge rock’ and weirdness, that keeps this album feeling fresh and different each time it’s heard. The album’s opener, the only new song on the album, *** Storm, is a prime example of their wierdness. It’s a flood of noise, created by melding previous Melvins tracks, that have been placed upon fast forward and rewind. Lovely Butterflies, from Honkey, is also a showcase for their weird side. It opens with an oppressive drumbeat, until the guitars erupt out of the speakers, and King Buzzo sings incomprehensible nonsense about “the Lovely Butterflies". Gluey Porch Treatments discards all it’s original heaviness, apart from about ten seconds. The rest of the track instead favours a droning sitar riff and weird vocals. Revolve is one of the catchiest songs The Melvins have ever done. The second half, consists of what sounds like a civil war pipe riff, and ***ing brilliant drumming. Tipping The Lion, features the highest electronic aspect of all the songs, and is certainly the weirdest.
The musicianship of this album is momentous. Dale Crover is regarded as one of the best drummers of all time, and some of the tracks on Electroretard reinforce this completely. On the second half of Revolve, the first thing you think to yourself is “sheeeit, that’s some goooood drumming." On Youth Of America, the drum solo is unearthly, I mean, how can Dale hit so many drums in such a short space of time? The guitar playing is almost as good, and King Buzzo can be credited with some of the best riffs of all time, Metallica would eat their own feet to be able to write a riff as good as Gluey Porch Treatments. The solos on Youth Of America are possibly better than the original, and they were ***ing brilliant. The bass, is also worth mentioning, due to one of the catchiest bass lines of all time, on there cover of The Cows’ I’m Missing (here entitled simply Missing). King Buzzo’ vocal style is unique, it’s a growling roar, that at times is terrifying. On Missing, his vocals are more high pitched than normal, but nevertheless just as frightening. On Youth of America, he abandons his normal style almost completely, and instead opts for a more punk voice—it fits perfectly to the track.
Electroretard ,as an album that is made up of reworkings of previous songs and covers, is surprisingly good. It may sound a little pathetic—The mighty Melvins reduced to making an album of covers? Fear not, The Melvins pull it off almost flawlessly. The, reworkings are more “out there" than they were initially, and this album portrays The Melvins creative genius. This is a superb, weird album, from the self-proclaimed ‘greatest band in the world.’