The eccentric entity known as the MELVINS has been around for decades, releasing dozens of albums and pressing through a variety of musical and cultural trends with its bizarre, one-of-a-kind music. At the core, two people drive the band: singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne and drummer/singer Dale Crover. Other folks have entered and exited a revolving door throughout the years. Currently, the group is fleshed out by Steven Shane McDonald (REDD KROSS, OFF!) and Jeff Pinkus (BUTTHOLE SURFERS, HONKY). Both men are playing bass guitar, layering notes to beef up the sound. It's an atypical approach, to be sure, but it's not unheard of in Kingdom MELVINS. The band was sometimes loosely known as the "Big Melvins" for nearly a decade with drummer Coady Willis (BIG BUSINESS, DEAD LOW TIDE, THE MURDER CITY DEVILS). Willis joined Crover on percussion for a hard-hitting, double-drum assault. With MELVINS version 2018, it seems obvious that Pinkus and McDonald—who have both been involved for several years now—were pulled aboard for their prowess with regard to performance as well as songwriting. The quartet has joined forces in a creative outburst that poured into its new album, "Pinkus Abortion Technician", a title that obviously pays homage to the BUTTHOLE SURFERS's release "Locust Abortion Technician".
The motley crew was bold to start things off with music that isn't its own, but MELVINS is not an ordinary band. It can and do whatever the hell it wants. And on "Pinkus Abortion Technician", the opening song is a mishmash cover that merges the JAMES GANG song "Stop!" with BUTTONHOLE SURFERS's "Moving To Florida" into a song MELVINS titled, simply and comedically enough, "Stop Moving To Florida". The album also closes with a cover of the SURFERS's "Graveyard", and sandwiched somewhere in between the two is a stab at THE BEATLES's "I Want to Hold Your Hand".
In its earliest days, the band created some of the most crushing sludge without an ounce of unnecessary tough guy pretense, whilst being able to rage with hardcore punk ferocity as well. It's always been many things, never neatly classifiable and perpetually on its own unique path. The unit helped establish the template of what was to become grunge. (The anecdote about Kurt Cobain once being the group's roadie is often tossed around.) Midway through its career, the unit had fun with in-studio weirdness. Nowadays, it's returned to the more obvious trappings of rock, albeit in an experimental, free-form kind of way in the spirit and style of none other than itself.
With "Pinkus Abortion Technician", the MELVINS know when to rock, but there is also the clear sense that the group allows itself to jam out like a kid in a garage. The dynamic duo of Osborne and Crover chose to let things truly flow. Rather than ruling with an iron fist, they allowed the quartet to sew things together as a band in the truest sense. Osborne is only assigned with songwriting credits on "Prenup Butter", Crover on "Flamboyant Duck". On the latter track, Crover's bizarre singing is the centerpiece surrounded by calm Southern-flavored stringed stylings courtesy of Pinkus's creativity. If the playful album title wasn't enough of an indication, Pinkus is responsible for more songwriting credits than anyone else. Will "Pinkus Abortion Technician" be regarded as one of the group's best efforts? Time will tell, but probably not. Regardless, when you listen to rocking songs like "Break Bread", yet another ditty that was written by Pinkus, on an album that has no weak links, who cares?