One thing you can never accuse Melvins mainman Buzz Osbourne of is sitting still. Dude's been the driving force behind dozens upon dozens of releases, and no two of them sound alike.
Naturally, that formula has led to some brilliance (Houdini, Stoner Witch), some failure (Sieg Howdy! with ex-Dead Kennedys howler Jello Biafra, last year's The Bride Screamed Murder), and a whole hell of a lot that fall somewhere in between.
Like the band's Scion-sponsored EP The Bulls and the Bees from earlier this year, Freak Puke is in that third category. Where it diverts from that fairly straight-ahead EP is the amount of experimentation that can be found in its ten songs.
Opening track "Mr. Rip Off" introduces rumbling cellos that are taken to their logical end on the bizarre minute-long spazzout "Inner Ear Rupture," while the nearly ten-minute long closer "Tommy Goes Beserk" devolves into a squall of feedback and tape glitches more akin to Aphex Twin than Black Sabbath. The weird parts aren't always good, but the effort is always admirable, especially coming from someone who's been in the business as long as Osbourne has.
Somewhat ironically, Freak Puke is at its best when it's relatively normal, as on potential mini-hit "Baby, Won't You Weird Me Out."
As good as Osbourne has become at weirding his audience out, it wasn't experimentation that made him Kurt Cobain's hero once upon a time; it was his ability to write a great rock song. He still can, as "Baby, Won't You Weird Me Out" and the other great verse-chorus-verse cuts on Freak Puke prove. He's just not interested in doing it full-time anymore.
That means Melvins might never make another Houdini. It should go without saying, but we owe it to the band to indulge them in whatever leaps they want to take anyway.