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I welcomed the return of the Meat Puppets ever since Curt Kirkwood polled fans as to whether they wanted to see a reunion of the original lineup through his MySpace page. The first result of that question’s aftermath, 2007’s Rise To Your Knees, was the indie-rock equivalent of Star Trek: The Motion Picture: It was great to see/hear from some old friends again, even if the end results didn’t fully live up to the anticipation built up from years worth of passing time even before a return to action became reality.
With that seemingly odd comparison having been made, it’s not a stretch to suggest that the follow-up, 2009’s Sewn Together (which made TGML’s Top 10 Album list that year) is the Meat Puppets’s Wrath of Khan. Fully recharged after the test run that was Rise To Your Knees, Curt and Cris Kirkwood and then-drummer Ted Marcus had delivered in Sewn Together a long-playing effort that was (and is) fully worthy of standing up with the best albums (II, Up On The Sun, Mirage, Huevos, Too High To Die) of their classic back catalog.
Now, two years later, comes Lollipop; While they’ve had a major personnel change – Shandom Sahm, son of the late Sir Douglas Quintet/Texas Tornados leader Doug Sahm and also a former Meat Puppet back in the short-lived Golden Lies period, replaces Marcus behind the trap set – they not only haven’t lost a step, they’ve progressed nicely without losing an ounce of what makes the Meat Puppets who they quintessentially are, be it Curt Kirkwood’s lead lines or his and Cris’s brotherly harmonies. Much of the material could have fit nicely on Up On The Sun or Mirage, but there are also a few welcome twists and turns, like the reggae/ska rhythms that propel the verses “Shave It”, or the almost Coldplay-esque piano chords that open “Orange” only to get near-obliterated by “My Sharona” drums and some nasty fuzz bass from Cris Kirkwood. All of it works.
So, if we’re going to fool around with Meat Puppets/Star Trek comparisons, does that make Lollipop their Search for Spock? Well, put it this way: Search was a must-see flick back in the day. Lollipop is a must-hear album. Enough said.
(Hot tip: Advance order customers who ordered Lollipop from the band’s website – your humble reviewer included – initially received a high-quality digital download of the album with the songs in their original, pre-manufacture sequence [but accidentally labeled with the final sequence’s song titles] – an error long since corrected and rectified by the band’s management. To emulate the original sequence, program your CD player or iPod playlist in the following order: 2, 3, 11, 10, 9, 5, 6, 7, 8, 4, 1, 12.)
Stream: Meat Puppets “Damn Thing”