Sound: After kicking down the door with "GodwEEnSatan: The Oneness," the Ween brothers Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman and Mickey "Dean Ween" Melchiondo set of to record a new album named after their apartment that was dubbed "The Pod," whilst battling mononucleosis and purportedly using Scotchguard as a drug (as evidenced by the album art). Released under the "Shimmy Disc" label and produced by Andrew Weiss, "The Pod" is a dark, murky journey that may enthrall some listeners but may get others stuck in its relatively difficult sound.
The "Awesome Sound":
The entire album seems to be covered in a sort of murkiness and darkness, a murkiness that is especially prevalent in the later half of the album. Multiple reasons for this most likely include the use of a Tascam 4-track recorder, the artists coming down with Mononucleosis, and/or the use of Scotchguard as a recreational drug; the one sure thing, however, is the emotion and skill put into the music.
The variety on "The Pod" is excellent, showing early signs of their genre-deconstructive talents in songs like "Sorry, Charlie" (a country-based ballad about an old friend), "Dr. Rock" (a rock-heavy trip that kickstarts the album), and "Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese" (a pop-styled song about Pork Rolls, Eggs and Cheeses) to name a few. The album is about an hour and 10 minutes, which may be a perfect length for some (and for others, a bit long-winded). The songs on the album flow into each other well, and nothing on here seems out of place; everything on it just seems to work. Gene Ween's voice can be heartfelt, piercing, emotional, and at times, kind of irritating on songs like "Molly," but his voice stands out well and never gets old to listen to. Deaner's guitar work ranges from phenomenal to great throughout the entirety of the LP. The seemingly low quality of the album is in of itself perfect for the songs themselves, but to get the most enjoyment out of it, you have to listen to all a couple of times to get it (as with every good album, such as Mr. Bungle's "Disco Volante," a similarly "difficult" album).
The average listener may find some difficulty in enjoying these songs due to the length of the album. Some songs (ex. "Molly," "Boing," "Strap on That Jammypac") are relatively repetitive and may cause listeners to skip those certain songs in favor of more unique-sounding ones (ex. "Captain Fantasy," "She F--ks Me," "Right to the Ways and the Rules of the World")
The sound is something that is meant to be for this album; nothing else would make sense, as the the lyrics are tied with it in a complete package of, for lack of a more perfect word, "brownness." Despite its nature of sometimes being a little repetitive, "The Pod" has a unique, succinct sound that takes a bit getting used to; once you do, you're in for a ride. // 9
Lyrics: Gene Ween and Dean Ween showcase some lyrical know-how on "The Pod" that predicts their future skill on albums such as "The Mollusk," "Chocolate and Cheese" and "Quebec." The words being sung have power and emotion, and really make you think at times. An example of this includes "Sorry, Charlie":
"Things didn't work out the way you had planned it,
Things fell apart at the seams,
What's yours is what you took with you,
And what you have has shattered their dreams.
Oh, and now you're cold and sleepy,
Christ, how did it come to this?
Hold on to those you thought were your loved ones,
They'll be the ones you miss..."
Other examples of lyrical genius include "Captain Fantasy," "Dr. Rock," "Right to the Ways and the Rules of the World," "Demon Sweat," "Mononucleosis," "Oh My Dear (I'm Falling in Love)," "Sketches of Winkle," "She F--ks Me,", and "Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese."
However, with every good set of songs on an album, there are detractors on it as well. Fortunately this isn't the case here, as the rest of the album does not go lax on its lyrics at all. Some songs are meant to jam to (ex. "Awesome Sound," "Can U Taste the Waste," "Frank"), while some are there to add to the magical ambiance that is spread over the album (ex. "The Stallion, Pt. 1 and 2," "Boing," "Molly") and one is about them going to get Mexican food ("Pollo Asado"). Gener spits out his lines like a pro, giving punch when he needs to, and being soft when it's necessary. Deaner with the guitar accentuates the lyrics even more, making a grand experience. There's a song for every mood on here, and the simple variety it brings is simply fantastic. The album is so unique with its lyrics, and I haven't seen anything like it in a while. // 10
Overall Impression: To be honest, you won't find an album like this just anywhere. This is something you have to give a few chances to understand it, and once you do, you'll fall in love with it. You'll remember the way it takes you through the murkiness from "Strap on That Jammypac" and come up for air near the end at "Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese" only to be greeted with "The Stallion, Pt. 2" waving goodbye. It's honestly like a journey, and like with all journeys, you need to prepare for it.
Recommended songs to start with: "Dr. Rock," "Captain Fantasy," "Demon Sweat," "Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese." // 10