The overwhelming success of the revamped, Jared & Coady-aided Melvins has been a mixed blessing for Big Business; as their duties with King Buzzo's crew have increased, so too have their profiles, yet, it's greatly detracted from their actual output as a band. It's been more than two years since they dropped Here Comes the Waterworks on a largely unsuspecting public that proceeded to flip their collective wig for its brutalizing bottom-end power and bludgeoning lyrical cunning. A couple of tour-only EPs have attempted to sate the salivating monkeys demanding new Big Biz, but to little or no avail, as it only served to further whet their appetites for the next main course. One that's been far too slow in the coming. Now, finally, after countless months of speculation and blog/Twitter/MySpace rumor, their latest full-length is ready for mass consumption.
More nuanced and finely-honed than their sophomore effort, Mind the Drift is the next chapter in the newly trio-fied Biz's sonic oeuvre, eschewing the battering-ram splendor of its predecessor for a patchwork-textured malevolence that they've only hinted at in the past (most notably on "Another Beautiful Day in the Pacific Northwest"). The addition of touring jack-of-all-trades Toshi Kasai to the permanent fold has widened their sonic palette vastly, and as a result, not only do we, for the first time, get whiffs of gnarled serpentine guitar to supplement the standard bass/drum devastation, but loads of burbling analog synths and meticulously-placed bells, whistles, bird calls and raygun-squelches as well. This shifting of sonic priorities takes some getting used to, as texture and nuance aren't terms one normally associates with Warren & Wills, and while there's nothing as thunderously thrilling as "Heads Up!" or "Focus Pocus" to be found here, the spooky avant-punk leanings of "Cats, Mice" and the whiplash pop underbelly the keeps "Gold and Final" and "Cold Lunch" from wallowing into the sludge are a welcome change of pace.
That said, whereas Here Comes... was the perfect distillation of their live performance energy on tape, Mind the Drift is the sound of a band in flux, confident, yet stumbling around in their new space, not quite sure what to do/make of all the new toys at their disposal. Uncharacteristic missteps like the plodding "Ayes Have It" and the title-track's terse build-up with no real payoff are proof of that, while the multi-tracked drum mayhem of opener "Found Art" could well be a Nude with Boots cast-off. Still, while they occasionally fall flat on their faces, it's encouraging to listen to them fight through the growing pains rather than retreat back to a simpler formula. While it's not the unstoppable juggernaut of an album we know they have in them, Mind the Drift is, nevertheless, an enjoyable bridge between their sludge-mongering past, and a much brighter future.