Monster Magnet
Napalm Records
Rock/Stoner Rock/Pysch. Rock 

This is their best effort since Powertrip (1998), and nobody who isn't already a fan will give a shit. This is a shame, because Wyndorf and Co. have managed to produce the unholiest of unicorns - a solid rock record. 

My love for Monster Magnet is as near to unconditional as I can manage. They're fucking fun, and they make fun albums. Lately I've noticed quite a few music writers and reviewers claiming that if you don't like [insert cheesy/dessicated glam, pop metal act] then you "hate fun." Bullshit. If all fun is is a post-ironic irony, a wink and a nod while raising the horns, you can fucking have it. When I say this album is fun, I mean I like it. You know, like it like it. 

Monster Magnet have always written good songs, and there's plenty of gold bracketing Powertrip on Dopes to Infinity (1995) and God Says No (2001). The slow rock burn of "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" and lazy swing of  "Dead Christmas" mark Dopes a rock record, while the psych. rock influence on display in God comes through loud and clear on "Kiss of the Scorpion." It's difficult to consider these albums second efforts. They'd stand out in any band's catalog. But they lack the power and authority of the band's most successful album. Mastermind, however, does not. Monster Magnet has always borne their influences proudly, no more so than here and, like Powertrip, they are seamlessly woven throughout. This is no compilation of radio-friendly hits and B-side filler. This is a fucking record. 

Mastermind  is an exercise in efficiency and form. Nearly every song opens with a lone bass line or riff before the rest of the band kicks in. There are obligatory solos and predictable bridges. The parts are common, but the effect is not. A kind of pop culture haruspex, Wyndorf butchers American history, myth and popular culture and interprets the remains. It's familiar and a little comforting. The Fantastic Four, and the Apollo program are invoked. "Perish in Fire" cribs a line from the Who, and "All Outta Nothin" calls on the Beatles.

The first four tracks are straight, mid-tempo rock. Single "Gods and Punks" anchors the introduction before the album shifts gears with the first of three anti-ballads, "The Titan who Cried like a Baby." The second, "Time Machine," is better, and helps break off mid-album sleeper tracks "Mastermind," "100 Million Miles," and "Perish in Fire." Things end strong with "All Outta Nothin." The only real lull in the whole collection is "When the Planes fall from the Sky," a good song that disrupts the flow just a little bit. Fans who spring for the limited edition get two bonus tracks for their support, "Watch me Fade" and "Fuzz Pig." Both could easily have found homes on the album proper, with the second representing the band's most dissonant work here.

Rockers should love this album. Metal heads should love this album (with the likely exception of dudes who won't shut the fuck up about how awesome Camel were). Waning, cubicle-bound heshers could rock this at their desk while surfing Craigslist for IROC parts. Play this for five year old kids and watch them proto-mosh on the carpet. Play it the car and get anywhere faster without even trying. Spin it at a party on repeat and count the hours before anyone complains, and then kick them the fuck out.   

In some ways, Monster Magnet are a victim of their own success. Powertrip was a ballsy rock album with crossover appeal, building on their already significant reputation with heavy airplay and a slot in MTV's diminishing video rotation. When following efforts failed to meet exceedingly high expectations, fans and music execs drifted away. No wonder really that the last three albums have all been released by European indies. But I can't help but think things have all worked out for the better. Powertrip rightly stood out as a singular, coherent piece. Until now. Mastermind may not be better, but it's certainly as-good-as. And that's real good.

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