Dale Crover Channels the Spirit of Dale Crover on ‘Rat-A-Tat-Tat’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Where to begin with Dale Crover?

Do we start with the easy, and say that he has, for decades, provided the backbone of the Melvins? Do we discuss his history with Kurt Cobain and talk about their band Fecal Matter and how that later translated into early recordings with Nirvana? Do we talk about his penchant for the experimental, perhaps mentioning his work with Mike Patton? Is a grunge god? A rock hero? An experimental icon? Can one be all?

With his latest solo release, Rat-A-Tat-Tat, Crover attempts to answer at least that final question with a resounding, “Fuck yes.” And that’s valid. The truth is that he is all these things. Crover is whatever the fuck he wants to be whenever the fuck he wants to be it. That’s a right he’s earned and it’s a right he, rightly, wields.

It’s a bit difficult to pin down the vibe of Rat-A-Tat-Tat absent the acceptance of this fact. This is an album with no real through line beyond the fact of Crover’s existence. It’s an homage to himself, a pastiche of all his influences, and a collage of sound that’s as accessible as it is off putting, depending on the track. Whether he’s channeling the good old days of grunge with songs like “I Can’t Help You There” or “Tougher” or standing dangerously close to the precipice of pop crossover with songs like “Shark Like Overbite” or crossing the threshold into experimental noise with “Supine Is How I Found Him,” the vibe is always and unabashedly Dale Crover.

Which is perhaps how it should be. After all, Crover owes nothing to anyone but himself. As an artist, he’s always sought to push his own boundaries and redefine his own comfort levels. The result is a fan base as varied as his personal tastes, all of which are given their moment on Rat-A-Tat-Tat. Call it the Grand Unified Theory of Dale Crover. It’s progressive and simple; it’s punk rock and pop; it’s off putting and inviting.

But throughout it all, it’s always rock and roll. Whether he’s trying to rock with the intensity of arena bands or blow minds with noise, Crover grabs the spirit of rock by the neck and delivers his all in an album that different fans will like—or hate, as the case may be—for different reasons. Now that I’ve said that, I’m realizing that this probably makes Rat-A-Tat-Tat the greatest grunge album released since 1993. That, in itself, is pretty goddamn rock and roll.

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