Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

When Mark Arm yowls "The lucky ones have already gone down / The lucky ones are lucky they're not around" on the title track of Mudhoney's eighth album, it's tempting to read it as a shoutout to all those Kurt Cobains and Layne Staleys who checked out early. (Remember, this is the same self-aware band that once sarcastically envisioned headlining a "10 Years Of Grunge" celebration.) But everyone knows Mudhoney is the lucky one: Turning up its nose at post-Nirvana expectations, it remained the same band of soused smartasses who couldn't write a hit single if they tried—and for not trying, they've been rewarded with eternal youth, even as their peers became dinosaurs. On The Lucky Ones, Mudhoney once again dances on the grave of grunge with a batch of spitting, snarling blues-punk, reinforcing the notion that they never really deserved that guilt-by-association. The limited recording time ("3.5 days, including mixing!") leaves little room for overdubs—some handclaps here, a plonking piano there—and this time out, Arm yields all guitar duties to master blaster Steve Turner, robbing listeners of their often-fiery interplay, plus half the energy. But lean and mean still suits Mudhoney like few others, and from the ageless Stooges strut of "I'm Now" to the primal scream of "Tales Of Terror," Lucky Ones is the sound of a band that obviously knows not to fuck with a good thing.


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