Melvins - Pinkus Abortion Technician

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2018-04-20
Melvins - Pinkus Abortion Technician
Melvins - Pinkus Abortion Technician

Melvins have always done things their own way. They constantly change the bands line-up, steadfastly refuse to be pigeonholed and have managed to release an album nearly every year since 1987. They’re passionate but not precious; more concerned with playing live and releasing music than taking 10 years to record their masterpiece.

For Pinkus Abortion Technician (I’ll get to that name in a minute) King Buzzo and Dale Crover are joined by ex-Butthole Surfers bassist Jeff Pinkus and Redd Kross bassist Steven McDonald. McDonald has been a regular member for a while now, recording and touring with the band since 2015.

Pinkus isn’t exactly new to the fold either having played on 2014’s eclectic and excellent Hold it in. He also made an appearance on 2016’s appropriately titled Basses Loaded. The band has played with two drummers before so recording with two bass players makes a very Melvins kind of sense.

Now for that album title. A none too subtle nod to Pinkus’ old band and their 1987 psychedelic nightmare of a classic Locust Abortion Technician. It isn’t a Flaming Lips-esque attempt at reimagining an entire album but we do get a brilliantly brutal cover of ‘Graveyard’, adding some extra weight to the songs mangled sonic assault.

The Melvins-Surfers love-in doesn’t stop there either. The album opens with ‘Stop Moving to Florida’, a medley of sorts that includes ‘Stop’ by the James Gang and ‘Moving to Florida’ by Butthole Surfers. Neither cover is drastically different from the original but it works a treat nonetheless.

Melvins have significant experience in this sort of thing having covered Wings, Alice Cooper, Flipper and Kiss to name a few. Butthole Surfers too, of course, opened their aforementioned classic with a hefty nod to Black Sabbath. Some songs are just too good not to cover. Everyone does, indeed, love sausages.

Next we get the gloriously giddy ‘Embrace the Rub’. I’ve already seen someone online complaining that it sounds nothing like Melvins but that’s no doubt the point. The fact that this McDonald penned and sung punk rock barnburner was released as a single only makes it better. The band sounds like they’re having a lot of fun but it’s the next two songs that really open things up.

‘Don’t Forget to Breath’ is made up of weighty drums, throbbing bass and breathy, mantra-like backing vocals. There’s also what may or may not be the sound of a steel drum or dulcimer. McDonald and Pinkus are completely absorbed into the albums DNA, the latter taking the lead vocal throughout the tracks near 8 minute sprawl.

‘Flamboyant Duck’ starts with that rarest of sounds on a Melvin’s album, an acoustic guitar. Pinkus then turns up with his banjo and things start to get really weird. The Deliverance vibes are shattered in the songs final moments when a more familiar guitar crunch rises out of the mix. Those wanting endless re-writes of ‘Night Goat’ or ‘Honey Bucket’ might be disappointed but this is one hell of a track.

‘Break Bread’ is much more straight-forward, the band indulging in some enthusiastically delivered classic rock. Next up we get a rather glorious cover of The Beatles ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’. Adding some irresistibly heavy guitars without losing any of the songs absurdly catchy melody, it’s absolutely impossible not to smile.

‘Prenup Butter’ takes us for a walk on the wild side once again with a strangely hypnotic, ever-descending bass line and some strung-out, psychedelic riffing from Buzzo. There’s a lot going on here and it’s not necessarily going to jump out at you on first listen. The album comes to a close with the bands aforementioned cover of the Butthole Surfers gargantuan ‘Graveyard’. Guaranteed to knock your socks off.

Like many of the bands finest albums, Pinkus Abortion Technician really does benefit from repeat listens. I’ve listened to this album about 5 times today and have found myself loving it just that little bit more with each return trip. It’s up there with the bands finest from the last ten years, going toe-to-toe with Freak Puke and Hold it in. It isn’t on the same level as Locust Abortion Technician but, then again, what is?

So a new album where half the tracks are covers and a decent chunk isn’t sung by the usual vocalist. Sounds a little frustrating right? I’m sure infuriating people and confounding expectations was all part of the plan but the fact remains that Pinkus Abortion Technician is a really fun album. Having a jam to their favourite songs and throwing in some punk rock and the odd psychedelic freak-out for good measure. It probably shouldn’t work but it does. Melvins will continue to do whatever they want and isn’t that a wonderful thing?

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