The “Lite” in The Melvins Lite is a loaded word. The classic band is abbreviated on Freak Puke; it is stripped back to a trio with Buzz Osborne on guitar, Dale Crover on drums, and Trevor Dunn on upright bass. Accompanying this new line-up is a uniquely experimental – dare I say mellower – approach.
Dunn’s bass playing gives the early tracks an expansive feel, providing plenty of room for Osborne to ply his distorted, angular guitar. The sonic breadth is spacey at times, rocking at others. Highlights like the opening duo of “Mr. Rip Off” and “Inner Ear Rupture” put a divergent stamp on the band’s work, offering surprises at every turn, including a choice reading of Paul McCartney and Wing’s classic “Let Me Roll It.”
The Melvins have defined their career by experimentation, and Freak Puke is yet another high point for a veteran group that isn’t content staying in one place for long.
Freak Puke is out now on Ipecac.
Rating: Four stars