Review Summary: pardon me, im only bleeding
The title of this record paints a painfully obvious picture of what’s held in store for the listener. For all intents and purposes, this is the Melvins, featuring common collaborator Jeff Pinkus, taking on the sonic strangeness of the Butthole Surfers. This is far from the first time the two bands have flirted with each other’s intoxicating bizarrities, as the bands have covered each other, created a live split, and effectively made the Melvins a supergroup on Hold It In
. While that album, which featured the Surfers’ Pinkus and Paul Leary, was very obviously borrowing from the legendary noise rock band, the iconic, metallic, muck-riddled grooves still took center stage -- that is to say, it was definitely a Melvins album.
Not to say this doesn't feel like an album from the group, or it’s even that left field or shocking. Much like last year's A Walk With Love and Death
’s Death side, Pinkus Abortion Technician
is a much less metal and more rock approach to fuzzy, stoned out jams. This time, however, the album is a homage to other artists and genres: “Don't Forget to Breathe” and “Break Bread” are extremely grungy, while “Prenup Butter” and “Flamboyant Duck” feel particularly psychedelic. This is also an attempted celebration of the eclectic nature the Surfers showed in their prime. Each track, especially the covers and Butthole Surfers retoolings, feature a serviceable level of noise rockish zest, which Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover are not unfamiliar with, as well a palpable aura of goofy surrealism and absurdism. Yet, despite the ground covered here and their serviceable performances, something feels missing from this album. These ideas, while diverse enough to remain interesting, are hardly unexplored, especially to this prolific band. Comparing itself to the masterwork of unsettling risk that is Locust Abortion Technician
was always a bad idea, as it helps frame this album as relatively safe and somewhat recycled. Even the covers here, barring the live staple “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” feel like exactly what you’d expect from “Melvins take on x band.”
The material featured on this release is arguably lacking substance. It's a good time in the moment and, contains some tight performances, especially seen in Pinkus’ and Steven McDonald's two headed bass attack and Crover’s always superb drumming. For a band that's objectively been in their victory lap for quite a long time, a 2018 release could have faired a lot worse. Still, the dedication to the Butthole Surfers feels weak at best and creatively strained at worst. While not quite half assed, this album is not up to snuff with even the modern Melvins releases and, in honesty, is a bit of a wasted concept, especially when you remember that the Surfers themselves plan on releasing a new album this year, making this record feel somewhat unnecessary to anyone who isn't a ride or die Melvins or Surfers fan. It's lukewarm as an homage and an original work (I use the word original loosely), reeking of “fans only” status. It's far from awful, but calling it uninspired would be right on the money.