The insane and often obscene duo of Gene and Dean Ween have once again created a lineup of songs sure to make you shake your head and wonder what minds could fabricate (and sell) such material. Though much more structured than the famous Pure Guava album, White Pepper possesses some of that feel, but retains the essence of The Mollusk more so than of any other previous albums. At any rate, Ween has preserved the patented humorous lyrics and obscure music they are well known for. A glance at the song titles (à la “Bananas and Blow”) tells all.
The taste of The Mollusk is evident in the opening two tracks with the almost spacey instrumentation and the subtle flow of vocals. The floating effect of “Flutes of Chi” is accomplished by the opening keys and slowly strummed chimes accompanied by what sitar-esque sounds. “Ice Castles” and “Back to Basom” are also both aquatic-sounding tracks with the delay pedal turned on; a Beatle-ish organ even pops up on “Back to Basom.”
Of course, the erratic philosophical lyrics and nonsensical words are present on these, as with every other song Ween has ever written. The obvious example is “Bananas and Blow,” which just happens to be the Jamaican track on the album about a desperate quick fix — “Stuck in my cabana, living off bananas and blow” is the chorus while “Eating the bananas and cocaine off the mirror” is the verse. Never dare to put anything past the guys of Ween. Ironically, the instrumentation is very well done, but just contains those less than serious lyrics (and we wouldn’t want it any other way).
Old-school Ween fans will be delighted with “Stroker Ace” and “The Grobe”; they sound like leftovers from the God Ween Satan days with heavy distortion and screaming vocals reminiscent of “Bumblebee.” However, they are the only such songs on the album, which resembles the gentler The Mollusk and even 12 Golden Country Hits. I admit, of all the Ween accomplishments, I find myself listening to 12 Golden Country Hits the most. It’s flawless travelling material as the steel guitar carries me through the Midwestern country.
I was quite delighted when I heard the last three tracks and found them comparable to that oh so loved country album. All three contain that tearjerking cowboy ballad feel of lost love, and even showcase the sorrowful steel guitar that hits me in the right spot. Not necessarily their greatest, but Ween has spawned a blend of their best feats and presented them on one disc.
Written by Nolan Shigley.