Mudhoney - The Lucky Ones

by Laura McGuinness Rating: Release Date:2008-06-02

Godfathers of grunge Mudhoney didn't leave the same gaping hole in the flannel-shirt scene as Kurt Cobain, but they were undoubtedly one of the first bands to make the movement possible. The first real success story for Sub Pop records, they helped put Seattle at the epicentre of new music, paving the way for super groups Soundgarden, and of course, Nirvana.

The band's seminal album Superfuzz Bigmuff may have secured them a place in the grunge hall of fame but their notoriety in the mainstream soon vanished. Despite this they have continued to churn out solid albums for the past 20 years, with this latest effort being recorded in a mere three days - surely an indicator of masters at work.

The Lucky Ones is a return to their roots. Unforgiving in its lack of development, Mudhoney don't care that their blues influenced punk-rock isn't particularly fashionable anymore. There are no pretences here and they've got nothing to prove, their longevity speaks for itself and they exude the same winning formula of distorted feedback, loud guitars and nihilistic dissatisfaction.

Opening track 'I'm Now' is jam-packed with electric riffs, solid rhythms, and plenty of piano tinkering. Nothing revs me up to listen to an album like a touch of hand-clapping, add to this a chorus full of feverish feedback and Mark Arm's angry unforgiving passion-fuelled vocals and you're immediately in the right frame of mind to enjoy this record. The dirty distortion shows no sign of letting up in 'Inside Out Over You' which is probably as close to a love song as you'll get from the band, and an opportunity for Arm to flaunt his morbidly clever lyrics: 'In my fucked up gestalt, I'm a slug in salt, losing its skin'.

Album namesake 'The Lucky Ones' typifies the kind of incessant riffage that has become synonymous with Mudhoney. Beginning with powerful sweeping riffs, Arm soon spits out his painful vocals to make for a memorable chorus. The band themselves have stressed that this album is written from the rhythm up and this rumbling provides the perfect backbone for their despondent rhymes.

It's fair to say that Mudhoney have retained their edge after all these years and they continue to blur a myriad of undertones and styles perfectly. 'Next Time' broils with Arm's animalistic wails and yelps. Exuding a sexual undertone, the dirty music and sleazy sounds make the track feel all the more depraved.

Meandering through the decades, the band adds touches of garage-rock, '60s guitars and psychedelic jams. Tracks like 'And the Shimmering Light' and 'We Are Rising' exemplify their laid back sounds, giving an altogether brighter and bouncier sound; a nice respite within a sea of sludge.

It's hard to believe that a group of 40-somethings produced an album like this. Their frantic recording is reflected in the lyrics and style, but it remains tight, raw, and brilliantly unpolished. Mudhoney have been together long enough to be comfortable, they don't need to push any boundaries too strenuously; they know what they do well. The Lucky Ones may be one of the forgotten albums of 2008 but it is their finest in years and one that we'll certainly remember. These boys are still pissed off, and that's how we like them.

Laura McGuinness

Best tracks: 'I'm Now', 'Inside Out Over You', 'The Lucky Ones'

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