The original Pussy Cats, a collaboration between John Lennon and Harry Nilsson, is more famous for the vocal-chord-wrecking chemical haze (see every review of this album) in which it was recorded than for the damaged and almost accidental brilliance of two great musicians.
But if there’s one thing the Walkmen know how to do, it’s drunken, slurred music, and they duplicate the album’s highlights well (“Don’t Forget Me,” “Many Rivers to Cross”), even adding their own alcohol-fueled touches. Their party can be heard in the annoying, drunken banter between tracks, and toward the end, the singing becomes so slurred, you’re surprised you can’t hear people vomiting or breaking the seal on the mixing board.
The remake, like the original, suffers from the increasing effects of debauchery. Early into Side Two, the album goes from being the fun kind of wasted to the embarrassing, weepy kind.
After 20 years, America’s best band to potentially be named after a frontal wedgie is still tugging at your waist band. Though Senile Animal is full of the slow-rocking death the Melvins have been perfecting for more than two decades now, the ’80s throwback is oddly refreshing these days when most younger “rock” acts are pulling out the acoustics to try for spots on the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack.
Something about hearing the bombastic evil that is “Talking Horse” and the vocal-chord-and-instrument-punishing experimentation of “A Vast, Filthy Prison” is disturbingly reassuring. But dig Dale Crover’s drums-as-weapons carpet-bombing on “Civilized Worms,” and that song’s transition into the relatively peppy “A History of Drunks,” with its satanic surf guitar and hand claps. The Melvins still have some interesting ideas. Put this album next to Rather Ripped and Christ Illusion as 2006’s proof that being old doesn’t mean turning down the volume.