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Melvins: The Crybaby

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Melvins

Album: The Crybaby
Label: Ipecac

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Melvins' bizarre career has included ill-fitting label deals, buzz-band status, frequent Nirvana endorsements, a few terribly self-indulgent goofs, even more inspired goofs (including a Kiss-styled set of solo EPs), and periodic doses of thunderous grunge-rock that can't be denied. The trio has been in inspired mode for a while, releasing a trilogy over the course of the past year, and The Crybaby is bound to draw richly deserved headlines. Designed to pay homage to duet compilations, it features 11 collaborations with a diverse assortment of guests, with the most prominent being a note-perfect cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" featuring the clearly enunciated vocals of Leif Garrett. The song showcases Melvins' exceptional skills at mimicry, and it's the first of The Crybaby's many highlights, not the least of which revolve around two notable appearances by Hank Williams III: covers of "Okie From Muskogee" and his grandfather's "Ramblin' Man." Those drawn to the album's gimmick may be put off by the sheer length of some tracks ("Divorced," with Tool, runs nearly 15 minutes, while the Bliss Blood collaboration "The Man With The Laughing Hand Is Dead" drones on for 11+ more), not to mention shrill thowaways like "Dry Drunk," assembled with the assistance of The Jesus Lizard's David Yow. But at its best—as on "Spineless," which showcases the considerable abilities of the under-appreciated Skeleton Key—The Crybaby illustrates just how fine Melvins' finest moments can be.