Mindfucker by Monster MagnetRelease date: March 23, 2018
Label: Napalm Records
Mindfucker is Monster Magnet‘s first all new studio album since 2013’s Last Patrol and it finds them reaffirming core principles and returning to their more straight-ahead rocking sound. Last Patrol introduced a more reflective and vulnerable Dave Wyndorf to the world and I wondered then if it signalled the band’s retirement. Dave denied that when I interviewed him at the time, even if the melancholic lyrics on that album seemed to tell a different story.
What then followed were the two ‘redux’ albums that came in between this album and Last Patrol; 2014’s re-imaging of that album – Milking the Stars and 2015’s Cobras and Fire (doing the same for Mastermind). Those records came on like the dreams and hallucinations of the ageing Bull God. Both of are fantastic, sprawling psychedelic epics from an alternate universe, the band giving free reign to their wiggiest impulses in ways that delighted fans of their space rock stylings on the classic Dopes To Infinity. Nevertheless, there were grumblings from the fanbase: Were we now to see endless tinkering with old material, the tiresome cash cow production line of remaster and repackage that Jimmy Page has reduced Led Zeppelin to? Was the Bull God dying?
Well, if you want proof that Monster Magnet are still alive and kicking then one listen to Mindfucker will put you right. This is an album designed for the live arena, a chest-beating, stupid-clever riot of a fun, with choruses to kill for. Wyndorf sounds like the wise-cracking space cowboy lothario of his prime, determined to convince you of his powers. Lyrically he hasn’t sounded this, well, bullish, since the early noughties, circa God Says No. There’s a song called ‘I’m God’, for crying out loud!
Admittedly it doesn’t start well, with the weakest tracks – ‘Rocket Freak’ a lazy cut n’ paste of standard MM tropes and forgettable melody and then ‘Soul’, which is certainly impassioned, but to my ears is a rehash of ‘I Want More’ from, surprise, God Says No.
Luckily, from title track, the groovy, cocky ‘Mindfucker’ onwards it improves greatly, and those choruses just keep coming. Trust me, the live shows will be a forest of banging fists and hollering rockers as ‘Mindfucker’, ‘Want Some’, ‘When The Hammer Comes Down’, ‘Ejection’ (the Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters cover) and, oh yes, ‘I’m God’ come blasting out.
It isn’t quite all bombast and supernova shagging self-confidence – two of the tracks that may well end up being more treasured songs in their canon, the bluesy ‘Drowning’ and the Motown meets Motörhead stomp of ‘All Day Midnight’ offer more sophistication and richer, darker textures.
Is this Monster Magnet’s finest hour? No. Are they treading water with this release? Maybe. But Dave and the gang have decided to put out an album of no-nonsense, hard rocking crowd-pleasers. That wasn’t always on the cards as Dave apparently penned a bunch of angrier, state of the nation lyrics, before opting to scrap them in favour of less depressing, less preachy fare. It’s not all they can do, we know that, but they can still do it very well. Let’s just be thankful there is a new Monster Magnet record at all, and enjoy the ride.