The Meat Puppets major label debut, an unbelievable feat in itself, is one of those rare and wonderful albums that paints a complete and detailed vision in the listener's mind, without relying on some grandiose conceptual framework. The scene that "Forbidden Places" conveys, the group's beloved ancient, southern desert, is not so far removed from the Pups' greater body of work, but the vivid imagery in which Forbidden Places portrays it easily makes this album one of their best yet. Opening with the jumbled, lightning-quick "Sam", the Pup's conjure up the aural equivalent of a roaring sandstorm only to quickly transition to the ZZ Topesque "Nail it Down," which sounds more than anything like a tribute to the old west. These instant transitions, fast turnarounds, and stylistic leaps continue throughout the album and immediately establish a cyclical frenzy akin to the constantly churning, aforementioned desert. Curt Kirkwood's psychedelic lyrics and acid drenched poetry also play a major part in crafting this musical replica of the old southwest. Lines like "In those days there was zero waste, now the waste of time is life," and "days of hiding in the sunshine, feeling nighttime's falling down" describe the utter desolation and ultimate sense of emptiness that the desert has to offer, which can be either spiritually cleansing or maniacally destructive depending on your perspective. However, while lyrical insights and beautiful imagery enhance Forbidden Places in ways that are almost indescribable, the album's basic framework is still the most important key to it's success. As always, The Pups generate a concise set of verse chorus verse rockers that feign the simplicity of punk rock and feed off the complexity of folk. The consistent variety, impressive musicianship, and clever songwriting are what truly make the album work because without a firm foundation, Forbidden Places could have easily become an excruciating exercise in overblown, Prog rock conceptualism. Because of their strong rock roots, the Meat Puppets are able to deftly execute an album that in any other hands would have certainly been weighed down by it's own plot and the band therefore creates an album that is worthy of any rock critic's praises.