Its getting pretty hard to review Melvins albums. What does one really say at this point besides, "Buzz and Dale continue to make great albums that challenge their fans but still sound like the Melvins. This time they did (whatever the unique but never gimmicky approach to their music is on this album) with (current bass player) and the results are great!" ?
Anyway, "Freak Puke" is a great Melvins album. This time out, they bill themselves as "Melvins Lite" because Jared and Coady aren't on this album, and Trevor Dunn is manning a stand up bass (playing with no amp of any kind) to cover the low end. Don't be fooled by the "Lite" part of the title, though, this is not a sequel to "The Bootlicker" and fans will have plenty of loud guitars, heavy drums and snarling vocals to enjoy. Mr. Dunn does an excellent job on bass, you'll hear jazz influnced plucking as well as some cool sounding bow work, with it all being very up in the mix, so again, the sonic weight is definitely there and just because its an upright bass with no amp hardly means its a "Lite" sound.
While this approach with an upright bass may sound like just a neat gimmick, it really works well and blends with Buzz and Dale just as good as any other instrumental line up they've done over the years. Its also worth noting that the emphasis on this album is on songs. There is very little noise mongering on display (though a Melvins album will always have some) and what is here doesn't stay too long. In a lot of respects you could compare "Freak Puke" to "Nude With Boots" given the surplus of 70's rock riffage on display and the tight focused songs.
Also worth noting is the cover of Wings "Let Me Roll It." Its a pretty faithful cover and its pretty awesome. It (and their other excellent covers over the years) kinda makes me wish the Melvins would do a full covers album, but I have a feeling they'd never be that predictable.
All in all its an extremely enjoyable Melvins album, and proves again that there is no limit to the amazing rock these guys can crank out, as they've been doing it for well over 20 years now without ever really coming close to making the same album twice. An easy purchase for seasoned fans and new people alike.
EDIT: Apparently the band saw this review (?!?!?!?!?!?!) as the next Melvins album, Everybody Loves Sausages, is indeed a COVERS ALBUM!!!! I don't know for sure if they read my review or not, but if so... Yikes!!!!