Meat Puppets - Rat Farm

Desert rats

Their alt.rock stock rose higher
than the sun following
Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In
New York endorsement, but
Arizona’s Meat Puppets
subsequently paid a high price
for their mid-90s celebrity
status. Bassist Cris Kirkwood,
especially, suffered an Icarus-like
fall from grace, losing both
wife and liberty during
a decade spent fighting heroin
addiction. The rehabilitated
Cris and his songwriting brother
Curt finally joined forces again
in 2006, and the reconfigured
Meat Puppets – also now
featuring drummer Shandon
(son of Doug) Sahm – have
maintained their prolific work
rate ever since.

Though it falls some way
short of the arid, acid-fried
surreality of their key early
releases Meat Puppets II and Up On The Sun, their 14th
studio set, Rat Farm, is one of
their better post-millennial
efforts – certainly vastly
superior to 2011’s polished but
unadventurous Lollipop. The
song structures and harmonies
are relatively linear these days,
but the heavily phased psych-stomp
One More Drop and the
eccentric title track, which
skilfully cross-pollinates slothful
Bo Diddley rhythms with
a peculiar reggae-like sensibility,
are both compelling diversions.

Long-term devotees may be
aggrieved by a mid-album
slump involving the dreamy,
but inessential Waiting and the
straight-up power-pop of Time
And Money, but the infectious,
Lake Of Fire-esque River Rose
and Sweet’s vintage, peyote-munching
wig-out suggest
sonic experimentation is still
working out down on the farm.

3 stars 3 stars 3 stars

Megaforce | tbc (CD / LP)

Reviewed by Tim Peacock
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