Primus - Antipop

by Ken Mercer.

Taken from The Badger Herald, University of Wisconsin, October 23, 1999.

Let me preface this review by relating my history with Primus. I went to the HORDE Festival in 1997 at the New World Theater in Chicago with the sole intention of seeing Beck. The lawn seats crowd was made up of small groups of hippie kids either sitting in circles or playing barefoot hacky-sack. They were ragged and unwashed, smoking pipes and staring at the sky. I thought maybe they'd come to see Neil Young, but when Primus came out playing "Fish On," all those nature kids got to their feet and started screaming.

By the time Primus played "My Name is Mud," there was a great mosh of tie-dye and a cloud of dust arose before Les Claypool as he scampered across the stage and slapped at his bass. I was shocked. I had always thought of Primus as a novelty band for gearheads, a heavier Presidents of the United States of America. But when I saw girls with patched-up pants and handkerchiefs in their hair marching through the middle of the pit throwing elbows and singing along to "Tommy the Cat," I began to wonder if maybe Primus was more than a joke.

At the time Primus was pushing their Brown Album, but the only songs anyone danced to were off of Pork Soda or Sailing the Seas of Cheese. I passed it off to the fact that it was a new record and no one really knew the songs yet, but when I finally listened to the Brown Album, I realized why no one had danced to the new songs. They sucked.

And so it goes with the new Primus album Antipop. Les still slaps his bass like no other, and his voice hasn't lost that nasal twang, but none of the material on Antipop is fresh. Most of the songs are an imitation of Primus's good material, sans fun and energy.

In the past, Primus was easy to take because they delivered catchy songs that were as immediate as a kick in the groin, but now they'd have us believe they are serious. The title track moans "I sucked information through the holes in my skull/As my belly gurgles hungry, my mouth is full." But anti-establishment posturing is hard to take on an album where Fred Durst is a producer and James Hetfield plays guitar, especially when the songs are barely removed from the very crap they rail against. There are flashes of exploration on "Eclectic Electric," but the rest of the album is pathetically weak and immediately forgettable. If you're a Primus fan (and just how many are there?), avoid Antipop.

The Cheesy Primus Page || Ram Samudrala ||