Picks and Pans Review: Piece of Cake

updated 10/26/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/26/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mudhoney

From the racing heart of Seattle's grunge-rock scene comes Mud-honey's fourth album, their first for a major label. In 1988 their legendary underground hit single, the misanthropic "Touch Me I'm Sick," kicked open the recording-studio doors that dozens of other alienated, flannel-shirted suburban youths—including, eventually, Nirvana—would romp through, wielding guitars, big amps and wawa pedals.

Though Mudhoney is less polished than Nirvana, Reprise let the band work with its regular producer in his Seattle basement studio. There the guys spewed out their usual alcohol-glorying sludge-metal with fuzz, feedback and friendly get-out-of-my-face attitude intact.

Ever perverse, the band refuses to open Cake with the customary radio-seeking single, playing a practical joke instead: "Techno," a one-minute spoof of the thumpingly mindless techno dance craze. They also distance themselves from the commercialism of the scene they helped found, satirizing in "Ritzville" the long-haired grunge wannabes who have descended on Seattle with dollar signs in their eyes ("They say you return to the scene of your crime/ I'm digging the scene, but I'm not sure if it's mine").

But Cake is mostly straightforward explosions driven by noisy guitars and Mark Arms's edgy, acidic vocals. Masters of the modern garage sound, Mud-honey has perfected the angry three-minute aural ambush. Cake continues the band's dead-on chronicling of the disillusioned and disaffected generation to which they belong. (Reprise)

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