Many reviews are painting this album as unfocused and lacking energy, and are painting the Melvins as drained of art. On the contrary, there is an important distinction between eliciting feelings of foggy weariness and being foggy and weary.
Singing the song of the exhausted skeleton on the cover, the album opens with the lost and alarmed track Decay of Lying, and proceeds to take the listener on a varied journey through downtrodden, curious, bitter, ridiculous, and ecstatic emotions. Lots of this feels like Neurosis’ Times of Grace, but comes from a more punk background.
Even the most stylistic and uncreative tracks have brilliant and thought-provoking moments – like the fade out and fade in at the end of I Want to Tell You that blends into the heavy groove at the beginning of Captain Come Down; this implies a lot of self-awareness and critical thought about the work.
One question I’m struggling with while writing this is: What the hell is with Shaving Cream?
The songs definitely aren’t as integral as other Melvins albums like A Senile Animal, and this is a common line of criticism for Basses Loaded. Critics tend to view artists as convenient objects under a microscope. Once artists create something good, they are decried as failures when they deviate from the course of their past selves; where do you go from the top of a mountain? They have the dangerous choice of risking imperfect change or risking stagnation. In Basses Loaded, they took both risks, and came out with something as fun, ridiculous, and gritty as ever.