The Mollusk



by SpiridonOrlovschi USER (26 Reviews)
March 6th, 2023 | 4 replies

Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: From the ocean, Ween brings this crustacean's symphony, a mysterious tour of unexplored aquatic depths.

Ween’s "The Mollusk" is everything that classic alternative rock rejected and everything that the musicians from the sixties couldn't make because of technical restrictions. Formed as a joke band between two good friends, Ween took the underground world as a total revelation. They were like a replica of Frank Zappa’s quirkiness, combined with a progressive hint a la Mike Oldfield and a large dose of mid-school humor. This blend represented for the X generation something that was found in "South Park" or Kevin Smith’s movies. Something that has both camp and high artistic value.

"The Mollusk" experimented with that fine line between strident kitsch and pure revelation through music, giving the entire album an eclectic spirit that sounded like a clash of musical passion and blissful goofiness. From the title, the album sounds slightly different. In an era where the album’s titles inclined between technological nonsense (like "Ok Computer") and pseudo-philosophic allusions ("Boatman’s Call"), Ween chose as a title a word that designed a subaquatic space, something isolated from the routine and out of people’s sight. That’s the feeling emanated by the music, like a synchronic adaptation of the siren’s song, not in an overtly poetic way, but in a style that emphasizes the strangeness and the hidden beauty that lie in its sound waves.

Furthermore, the cover has the quality of selecting the listener, a rare ability in pop art. The one who is attracted to the cover will taste the songs because they build on that oceanic spirit expressed by Storm Thorgerson’s portrait of a mollusk. At first glance, you can anticipate the sea shanties, the ballads of sea creatures, and the barroom moments—another trait that adds further complexity to the record without depriving the music of its appeal. The song suite suggests the sea décor with all the instrumental means while keeping intact the sheer melodicism. According to the computerized vocal ascensions, Ween’s spirit is fully present and omnipotent.

A song with sea shanty favor constructed over a model of a Christmas carol, "I’m Dancing In The Show Tonight," opens the curtains and sets the scene for a piece of juvenile and cheeky music, an androgynous representation of the Beatles’ harmonies, filled with discreet prog-rock accents. The piano and the gleeful tune create a cabaret atmosphere, giving the composition a touch of imponderability. After this not-to-be-taken-seriously introduction, the group conducts the atmosphere to pop perfection on "Mollusk". Such a contrast between the two moments resonates like a complete step into another harmonic universe. The initial sarcastic playfulness descends (or, better said, ascends) into an emotional movement that keeps unspoiled the joy of life and the universal dream. Due to the highly equilibrated joy of "Mollusk", the horn finale sounds real and not recreated on synthesizers. So, Ween already has the listener on its web.

The future movements will follow a highly varied course, being connected with the marine concept and giving the record an unforgettable touch. "Polka Dot Tail" is founded on a waltz pattern, contrasting with the synth-rock of "I’ll Be A Johnny On The Spot". The lyrics usually don’t make sense, the surrealistic character evidencing the voluptuous musical shapes made just from ambiguity.

According to the Ween Brothers, "Mutilated Lips" is about kissing an unattractive girl while tripping on LSD. The subject and the lyricism feel both offensive and disturbing, but the execution turns the song into an anthemic tour of the force between the alternative rock phases. It has a flow that reminds of REM’s ballads, combined with a highly stylized keyboard modulation. This is the moment when the album feels like an assumed work of art, like an ode to that nineties surrealism, drenched in that stoner’s pattern.

As was expected, the song’s fake seriousness is vaporized by the rough "The Barney Stone", an indecent sea shanty that oscillates between catchy and outright disgusting. As was expected again, the next song, "It’s Gonna Be Alright," becomes a splendorous ballad, a total stranger to roughness or boredom.

"The Golden Eel" appeals to the synth-pop variations, being an uncommon bridge to the cover of the medieval song "Cold Blows The Wind", which is outstandingly beautiful and pathematic. "Pink Eye" amplifies that illogical songwriting, meaning nothing but offering a mesmerizing keyboard inclusion. "I’m Wavin’ My Dick In The Wind" emphasizes artistically the unintelligent jokes, being the culmination of Ween's mindless, but good-natured humor. When I wanted to catch the sense of the lyric "See Jimmy Wilson dance", I found that "Jimmy Wilson" is just a fictional character in this exposition of the depths of nothingness converted into musical meaningfulness.

"Buckingham Green" astonishingly captures the favor 60s Pink Floyd, being the second half’s centerpiece. The complexity classifies it as a progressive rock song while keeping intact the art rock print that enriched the previous passages. "Ocean Man" constitutes an appropriate correlation with the Kinks' style, a band that inspired Ween's punny rock style.

In the end, we are left with an amorphous and subaquatic song, nuancing the landscape with a hint of mystery and suggesting the impression that the music takes place in another place, in another dimension, fantastically recreated by the band's eclectic style. With this suite, every alternative rock listener is invited to step into another dimension, rich in musical imponderability and a unique atmosphere. Dick jokes, poor humor, and, above all, a unifying musical mastery highlight the enigmatic song of a mollusk, a chant that remained until then stuck in Syd Barrett's throat.

Recent reviews by this author
Cowboy Junkies The Trinity SessionFunkadelic Maggot Brain
Tom Petty WildflowersJimmy Cliff Wonderful World, Beautiful People [LP]
Brian Eno and David Byrne My Life in the Bush of GhostsPrince Dirty Mind
user ratings (721)
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 6th 2023


Album Rating: 4.5


March 7th 2023


Album Rating: 4.0

their best.

March 7th 2023


Ween - The Mollusk

March 7th 2023


I've only ever listened to Chocolate and Cheese. I should fix that.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2022 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy