Does it get much better than this?
Mudhoney picked a great time to put out their best record, and this thing, while summing up everything that was great about early-90's rock, is untouchable from start to finish. From the organ intro (!) on the instrumental first track, "Generation Genocide," to the aptly-titled last track, "Check-Out Time," this record never stops. (Aside from the weird little harmonica-blowing intro to "Into the Drink," which I would love to know the story behind.) It's a front-to-backer, folks. Put it on and walk away from the stereo.
While Mudhoney were great on their first LP, they're certifiably brilliant on this one. The hooks are infectious, the recording quality has stepped up (but not too much), and guitarist Steve Turner, who was previously probably considered "good for what he's doing," is now "good" without any need for a further disclaimer. Songs like "Good Enough," "Something So Clear," and "Pokin' Around" are among the best Mudhoney would ever make, and I could really say that about almost every track on here.
Mark Arm is still unlucky in love, but instead of sounding overwhelmed with bitterness, he seems merely fueled by bitterness (which is a little bit better, right?), and he uses it to wrench all sorts of energy and even a little bit of hopefulness out of some of the songs. Tracks like "Thorn" and "Into the Drink" even make it seem like it's getting over things. Either that, or he's ready to murder someone. Whatever works.
I watch documentaries about the NW scene, or grunge, or whatever they want to call it, and people always say stuff like "I really thought Mudhoney was going to be the breakout band from Seattle." I'm not sure if I really understand that. Even when I was huge fan of theirs during this time, which was probably the peak of their popularity, I never felt like the mainstream would be accepting of them. They always struck me as that lovable gang of misfits who might get close to the big prize, but never really hit the big one. And that's exactly why I thought they were so awesome, and exactly why I still think they're so awesome. When they signed to a major label, I always pictured that these guys were finding a way to fuck up the system from the inside. Maybe that's just wanted to think. I don't even really know where I'm going with this.
But I do know that this would be Mudhoney's last album before they signed with a major, and they made it count. If you met somebody and they wanted to know what "grunge" sounded like, you could hand them this. I don't know if that's a good or a band thing, but like I said, this record sums it all up in less than 45 minutes. It's some landmark shit. And I say that in the midst of a huge Mudhoney phase that I've been wrapped up in for the last few weeks, but I mean it. This is a good one.