Mudhoney – Vanishing Point album review

Vanishing Point is an inadvertently funny walk down memory lane. If you were in high school in the nineties, you had at least an inkling of an idea who Mark Arm and company were. This was the band that helped Sub Pop get the ball rolling as a label, the band that was always right in the background of the big name acts of the grunge rock explosion of that time.

Listening to this album reiterates why Mudhoney were never that big. While there is that interesting mix of influences that lends this group its distinctive sound, the sound of their music isn’t all that attention grabbing. It’s loud and abrasive in a genuinely rock and roll kind of way, but it’s also kind of boring and uninteresting.

Part of the problem is that the musical agenda being pursued on this album is over and done with, and has been for some time now. Sure, there is a range of motion from straight up grunge to hardcore, but there’s really nothing new to say. It’s as if they stopped trying.

The other problem, for me at least, has to do with Mark Arm’s vocals. Yes, they’re like totally influenced by punk and all that, but the gratingly annoying in his vocal style is a bit too gratingly annoying. This is coupled with lyrics that are basically another variation on the angry, misunderstood loner; if they were well written, that would be one thing, but a hook like ‘douchebags on parade’ does not seem to have required that much skill. I used to wonder just how long someone could ride the wave of disaffected teen-aged angst. Now I know.

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