Warble Womb is the sixth studio release for this D.C. trio, and it’s a noticeable departure for the band. This double album is about 75 minutes long—that’s an hour and a quarter of meandering, not-quite stoner rock. And by “not-quite” I mean that the album is lengthy as expected, but the tracks have a classic rock bent and a distinct lack of the band’s signature heavy sludginess. The quick take being that the buzzing drones have been replaced with an alt-blues guitar, a thread that runs consistently throughout the record.
This is best exemplified in the six-and-half minute long good ol’ blues guitar jam, I’m Cured, that dips its toes into the realm of My Morning Jacket jam sessions. The single 1000 Dreams has quite a bit of rolling, thumping, swaying drums, but still faulters in its psych rock attempt. Copper Is Restless (‘Til It Turns To Gold) even incorporates reggae undertones in the band’s unlikely and not all that successful attempt at a dub track.
Dead Meadow co-founder and original drummer, Mark Laughlin, has rejoined vocalist and guitarist Jason Simon and bassist Steven Kille for the first time since 2001’s stoner rock stand-by, Howls From The Hills. But this, clearly, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a “return to form,” just a change and maturation within the sound of a 15-year career. Mr. Chesty, the first track recorded with the newly reunited members, has a reverberating weight to it, meshing fuzzy guitars with echoing harmonies while still trying to incorporate Dead Meadow’s new moves.
But those with some patience will eventually get a smattering of the heavy, grainy goods on This Song Is Over, Warble Womb‘s tellingly penultimate track. This certainly doesn’t make the album a wash—the swampy tunes are still fairly enjoyable. But it does change the formula for the band, perhaps baffling the long-time fans, eyes closed and heads a-banging, who are looking for the usually guaranteed heavy load of get-zonked tracks.