Thursday, September 15, 2011

Primus- Green Naugahyde (2011)

Primus are back with their first full-length album after nearly twelve years and approximately 4,700 Les Claypool side projects. Green Naugahyde marks a return to form for the band in more way than one. Original drummer Jay Lane is back and is finally on his first Primus recording featuring original songs (no, Riddles Are Abound Tonight doesn’t count). According to Claypool, Lane was the one who wrote many of the drum parts in Primus’ early albums, and this should be of no surprise to anybody who has listened to this album. Lane’s playing is reminiscent of Tim Alexander, the man who pounded the skins on the band’s first four albums. But the similarities to their early work don’t end there. Les and Ler are back to doing what made them famous, but of course you can’t really revisit the past.

The first reports of Green Naugahyde described it as being similar to the band’s debut album Frizzle Fry. This was welcome news to me as that is my favorite Primus album but I was skeptical they would make an album that conventional (relatively conventional, of course). Frizzle Fry is Primus’ most metal-sounding album and features the least flashy bass playing from Claypool. For large chunks of songs he and the guitar are playing the same patterns, which becomes a rarity on later albums. On Green Naugahyde? Not so much. On this one Claypool is his flashy self and uses some of the same tones on his very out-there solo album Of Fungi and Foe. That’s not to say he is above riffs, however. Many of the patterns are repeated and some of the best riffs are done with his patented Flamenco strumming, which were especially highlighted in their early albums.

No, Claypool doesn’t follow the guitar like on their debut (Or was it the guitar that followed him? Eh, that’s not important). But why should he? That was over twenty years ago. Claypool gave a very poignant quote in Rolling Stone last June:

A song like ‘Jilly's on Smack’ just wouldn't have been written in the early Nineties, because we hadn't lost a friend to heroin addiction. A song like ‘Lee Van Cleef’ which is reflective of my youth just wouldn't have been written back then.

Yes, they are still Primus. But in the last twenty years they have learned lessons, musical and otherwise, that have helped shape their sound.

Don’t let that last paragraph discourage you. This is most certainly a Primus album. Who else but Primus can get away with a song called “Eyes of the Squirrel?” Claypool’s not-too-specific-but-still funny social commentary is back with songs like “Moron TV” and “Eternal Consumption Engine,” and we even get a new installment the Fisherman’s Chronicles. And just like a Primus album, it loses steam near the end. I could have done without “Extinction Burst” and I probably would have been okay with missing “HOINFODAMAN” and “Green Ranger.” But still, eight good songs out of eleven is not a bad ratio. Green Naugahyde is a little bit of the same and a little bit different, which is to say that is a lot different than anything else you’ll hear this year.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure what's happening to the colors in the last part there. hmm