If the last few albums are any indication. Primus is running out of steam, ideas, and energy. The freak rock outfits’ previous release was their interpretation of The Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory soundtrack which disappointed almost as much as the awful 2005 remake of the film. For this go around Claypool and company use a lesser known children’s novel The Rainbow Goblins as inspiration for their newest studio effort; the result is The Desaturating Seven, and it is instantly forgettable.
While whimsical, trippy, oddball and offbeat have always been at the core of Primus (along with inventive heavy rhythms and warped guitars) this album feels halfhearted and insensate. The seven songs lackadaisically meander, the lyrics are muffled and sporadic and while the run-up to the album hyped Tim “Herb” Alexander’s return to recording Primus original material, his thundering drums are underutilized throughout.
“The Valley” sets the scene with a voiceover in front of plucking strings and pedal effects before Claypool starts “filling the valley with fear”. While not a stunning opener, the voiceover trick worked and should have been utilized more on an album which too often buries the lyrical theme. Arriving next is “The Seven” describing the Goblin colors and their mission but doesn’t make any impact while “The Trek” uses an acoustic intro with limited splashes of intriguing musical passages that are not sustained, ending after a disjointed seven and a half minutes.
The album contains a lot of things in this style, owing more to Pink Floyd circa 70-71 than the trio’s own impressive back catalog. “The Dream” swirls backward loops mixing with small touches of weirdness but no climax and little reason to stick around to the lackluster “The End.” The “Storm” is slightly better with bubbling bass line but it never coalesces, even when the full band closes out the tune.
The strongest track, “The Scheme” contains flashes of vintage Primus with the most interesting bass/ drum pairings, guitar slashes and direct vocals. The albums choice to go with distorted vocals (along with the lack of any memorable choruses) is regrettable especially if Claypool was trying for an album that children would latch on to. The musical space here is dull and will not keep most listeners attention, let alone children in this day and age.
In theory, both of these most recent projects should fit the band perfectly yet they both fall short. Perhaps a Rankin/Bass style animated film could use this as a soundtrack in the future, but standing alone, The Desaturating Seven is uneventful from a once powerful trio.