Mudhoney Vanishing Point

MudhoneyVanishing Point
Mudhoney have always thrived on challenges: living up to their members' musical legacy, remaining true to themselves in the face of mainstream success or staying relevant when perceived as well past their prime. Vanishing Point (the band's latest and fourth album since their 2002 return) feels like the first Mudhoney record that fails to challenge the group. Acceptance rules the roost — this is what Mudhoney sound like, no more, no less. And that's all their small but dedicated group of fans want from them. "I Like it Small" is a terrific rave-up, with Mark Arm's vocals finding that sweet spot between scream and squeal, while "The Final Course" rediscovers the swampy guitar dirge that launched a thousand grunge bands. But as much as these songs hit upon Mudhoney's winning elements, there's a lack of swing in the band's step. I'm Now, the recent documentary of the group, showed how they've found a comfortable level of acceptance and respect. But acceptance breeds complacency and "Douchebags on Parade" sounds like a weak and unimaginative dig for a band that once, when asked to soundtrack a chase scene in a film, produced the song "Run Shithead Run." (Sub Pop)