Melvins – Working With God


Reasons to be cheerful (1,2,3).

  1. Melvins are back with another line-up, but this one is “as close to the original Melvins lineup as we’re willing to get”.  King Buzzo, Dale Crover and Mike Dillard are back!
  2. The press release reads like a 4am e-mail from a drunk and over-familiar uncle, including hits such as: “Listening to the Melvins is like taking a drug trip while watching a movie about someone on a drug trip”; “[Dillard] used to have a job making tooth picks out of logs but he got shit canned for showing up to work drunk one too many times”; and who could forget, “It’s the album bands like Green Day and Metallica wish they could put out if they only had the guts.  Foo Fighters maybe but probably not.  Once again, no guts…”
  3. Most of it is good.

Let’s be positive.  What everyone wants from a Melvins album is RIFFS.  Not riffs, or Riffs, but RIFFS. “Negative No No”, “Caddy Daddy”, “Boy Mike”, “Hund”….you’ve got plenty to pick from here.  Buzzo has always mastered writing tunes that inspired the same fervour as the best thrash bands, or the dirtiest of sludge bands, all with a knowing sense of irony but without descending into parody.  You’ll get your fix here.  Don’t worry.  You won’t be disappointed.

I would imagine that their claim about Green Day et al is that they don’t have the guts or luxury to make an album they’d want to make without having to consider the commercial impact.  I’d agree with them.  Bands like that are too big to fail, and I say that without judgement.  Melvins are in the ideal position of making enough money to survive (I assume) while never having to worry about whether they need to be more commercial.  The album sounds like people having fun.  It’s wonderful to hear, especially in times such as these.

However, I think that can sometimes come at a cost.  Take the opener and closer of the album.  The album starts with a cover of “I Get Around” by Beach Boys called “I Fuck Around”, where they change loads of the words to say “fuck”.  It’s a bit Green Jelly, or a little too Ugly Kid Joe.  The fact that the whole album is produced about one degree of compression away from sounding like one of those early 90s grunge-lite albums doesn’t help (nor does it hinder the overall enjoyment, especially for nostalgia freaks).  It ends with an acapella cover of “Good Night Sweetheart” which is…Melvins doing an acapella cover of “Good Night Sweetheart”.  Wonder what that sounds like?  It sounds as you’d expect.  Kind of knowingly ironic, slightly overly croony as a bit of a gag.  You wouldn’t miss it if it was missing.  You wouldn’t care if it was included.  In fact, the intervals between, coupled with these two tracks, show they are enjoying themselves, but they smell like filler used to bulk up the album and justify making it an LP.

None of this is to say it’s a bad album.  It’s great.  It has everything you want from a Melvins record.  However, ironic covers are sadly associated with pub bands who want to appear somewhere between iconoclastic and hilarious, and that’s kind of where they should stay.  No one likes being on the outside of the in joke.  It’s great to see Melvins enjoying themselves, and having bands who can do what the fuck they want is so deeply important that I’m willing to put up with the times I’m made to listen through good natured self-indulgence. If you’re willing to do the listen-at-home equivalent of nipping for a piss or refreshing your glass at the bar, this album is everything you’ll want it to be.

Words by Angri Peters

  • Released by Ipecac Recordings on 26 February 2021
  • Ipecac artist page for King Buzzo
  • Melvins facebook page

Track list:

  1. I Fuck Around
  2. Negative No No
  3. Bouncing Rick
  4. Caddy Daddy
  5. 1 Brian, The Horse-Faced Goon
  6. Brian, The Horse-Faced Goon
  7. Boy Mike
  8. 1 Fuck You
  9. Fuck You
  10. The Great Good Place
  11. Hot Fish
  12. Hund
  13. Good Night Sweetheart