Meat Puppets - Lollipop
From the chugging opening riffs of "Incomplete," the kickoff track off of the latest Meat Puppets, you know who you are listening to right away. You also know what to expect, more or less, from the other eleven songs on "Lollipop," namely, country-tinged boogie that maintains that line between hypnotic and monotonous the Kirkwoods have walked since settling into this formula about four records into their career.
The best songs will remind of records where this formula worked best, like "Up On The Sun" and "Huevos," while the worst will fall into the category of Meat Puppets tunes you never heard and records you didn't buy. "Hour of the Idiot" and "Way That It Are" represent the former, with Kurt Kirkwood's roused guitar adding extra muscle to the melody. Light and slight, "Baby Don't" and "Town" are not so much forgettable as liable to make you feel ambivalent; not caring is the kiss of death for any song.
Slower, more deliberate, almost-ballads like "The Spider and the Spaceship" and "Lantern" are nice surprises, Tex-Mex shaded story-songs perfect for the Kirkwoods' less than perfect vocals; the Puppets at this tempo are as loveable and occasionally astonishing as they are on tunes when they rock with effort.
"Lollipop" is the third record from the legendary Meat Puppets since their reunion in 2006. New drummer Shandon Sahm fits in fine with the psych-country shadings of the Kirkwood brothers, but adds nothing new or dynamic. Neither does this record to the band's legacy. It is what unfortunately most Meat Puppet discs have been since 1989: occasionally brilliant, mostly just there, and too predictable to really fall in love with.
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