Mudhoney’s return to Sub Pop after a 10-year hiatus couldn’t be more unlike their start on the famed indie label. Contrast the band’s first 1988 single—the 2:30 blast of nihilism called “Touch Me I’m Sick”—with the first song here, a sprawling, drug-damaged dirge clocking at 8:26 called “Baby, Can You Dig the Light.” That the album closes with an 8-minute Stooges jam called “Sonic Infusion” is telling, too: While they’ve lost much of their leanness and are less direct, they are still Mudhoney, and Mudhoney still digs the Stooges.
The change at drummer to former Lubricated Goat bassist Guy Maddison has brought with it the addition of twisted brass—which taints tunes like “Take It Like a Man” and “Where the Flavor Is” in ways that recall infamous trash-rockers Bloodloss. (This may or may not be a good thing.) Meanwhile, “The Straight Life” and “Inside Job” are some of the catchiest tunes the band has put out in years.
And that also might not be a good thing. While Translucent offers Mudhoney fans the easiest listen of the band’s career, only one or two tracks (notably, “In the Winner’s Circle”) capture that combination of venom, wit, and old-time Northwest angst that made Mudhoney one of the grunge movement’s standouts.