By: Eric G.
Following Santana’s example of recruiting famous singers to make music that is palatable for the lowest common denominator of music fan, the Melvins release the final installment of its self-proclaimed trilogy with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The Crybaby features the Melvins playing all the instruments and hiring out various freaks to handle the vocals. Leif Garrett kicks things off with a candy-assed version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I guess it’s supposed to be funny to have Leif Garret teaming up with The Melvins, but the result is pretty tame. Garret’s vocals are cheesy and overproduced, which is presumably to add to the kitsch factor. The Melvins just play the song straight, but when coupled with bombastic 70’s style vocals it all ends up sounding like Queensryche (read “bad”).
The band’s interpretation of The Jesus Lizard’s “Blockbuster” lacks the tension and ferociousness of the original, but letting David Yow loose on a song always provides entertainment enough- even if it’s a song you already know. Hank Williams III faithfully covers Hank Williams Sr.’s classic “Ramblin’ Man”, and he successfully mimics his grandfather’s patented hillbilly inflections. Mike Patton lends the Melvins one of his originals, indulging in plenty of his notorious vocal experimentations and forcing the Melvins to branch out into the world of electronics, and it actually works.
“Mine Is No Disgrace” sounds like recent Melvins’ material with a slow, trudging riff and vocals that hang on each note, but Foetus’ raspy voice doesn’t have the menacing quality of King Buzzo’s. The collaboration with Skeleton Key is aggressive and consistently rocking, and that’s always appreciated on a Melvins’ record because the band is renowned for its plodding pace. Teaming up with Tool doesn’t really seem advisable, but “Divorced” is not too bad, despite being over fourteen minutes long. It builds like a Shellac song with a thudding repetitive bass line that blasts into a screeching but controlled release.
The Melvins have always been a metal band at heart, and the band’s latent roots shine through in “Dry Drunk”- a song co-written by David Yow. After an initial explosion of balls to the wall metal, the song digresses into a free jazz interlude with this curious sample: “Well, I’ve got a new friend. His name is ‘sobriety.’ Yeah, but ‘sobriety’ is boring as fuck.” Despite the (ironic?) attempt to cast a wider net, The Crybaby will doubtfully recruit any new fans for the Melvins- unless college stations think that Leif Garrett song is funny.