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Mudhoney - Vanishing Point

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Artist: Mudhoney

Album: Vanishing Point

Label: Sub Pop

Review date: Apr. 12, 2013

Subjects covered in the lyrics to Vanishing Point, Mudhoney’s ninth LP and first in five years: Getting hassled at the grocery store; being proud of having a small penis; coming back from the dead to little fanfare; disliking Chardonnay. As much as there will ever be a personal Mudhoney record, it looks like Vanishing Point is it. Having spent their last couple of records flirting with the likes of horn sections, political lyrics, and stretching out their song lengths, Vanishing Point serves as a 34-minute distillation of what those who still expect things out of Mudhoney expect from Mudhoney.

It’s practically a moot point to discuss the sounds and influences behind a Mudhoney LP. Vanishing Point deals in the requisite Asheton solos, MC5 rhythm section moves, and intentionally boneheaded lyrics: Mark Arm is preaching to the choir on this one (I can’t imagine many listeners recoiling from their speakers in disagreement at his opinions on wine, for example). But was he ever not? Mudhoney has always come across as music for people mostly similar to Mudhoney, and Vanishing Point doesn’t see them reaching across the isle any more than they did in 1988.

This isn’t to say that Arm and company’s recent work has been for naught. After being dropped by a major and spending the early part of this century in the wind, Mudhoney have been back on the horse for long enough that it’s clear they’ve gotten their act together and ascended surprisingly effectively to a role alongside Melvins as the only remaining elder statesmen of late-‘80s/early-‘90s heavy rock ‘n’ roll who haven’t broken up or completely embarrassed themselves. That there’s any reason to consider Vanishing Point at all is a testament to the enduring quality of Mudhoney’s golden-era output, and to listeners’ ability to know what to expect.

Think about how easy it would be for Mudhoney, rather than quietly releasing a good noise-rock record every few years, to try and market themselves as the "teaching these kids how to do it" band, referencing how old such-and-such were when Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge came out (I was 5). We’re incredibly lucky to have this version of Mudhoney still around, and Vanishing Point’s quality does a good job helping us not lose sight of that.

Mudhoney haven’t swung for the fences on any of their post-major-label output from the past decade or so, but why should they? If they’re content with exploring the sonic space immediately surrounding the format they perfected 25 years ago, making records for those of us with the time and energy to keep up, there’s no reason for any involved parties to lay off the gas. I wouldn’t hold it against anyone who has more important things to do with their time than listen to a 2013 Mudhoney record, but if you’re listening to METZ and not Vanishing Point, then I don’t know what to tell you.

By Joe Bernardi

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