Like crotchety grandfathers, Mudhoney is full of sage advice. Mark Arm's lyrics are pretty political on Under a Billion Suns, the band's second effort for Sub Pop since returning to their original label in 2002. But the brothers Mud do the political shuffle like they do everything else with bludgeoning, cranky glee. "Hard-On for War" explains the Iraq situation in its simplest terms, while "It is Us" is the short answer to the question of "Who's the enemy?" The racket of Mudhoney's seemingly ancient 1988 debut Superfuzz Bigmuff still rings on Suns. But they've also carried over the horn section from 2002's Since We've Become Translucent, giving tracks like "Where is the Future?" and "Let's Drop In" variety to go with the band's traditional sledgehammer zeal. Don't fret, die-hards: that sledgehammer slams on "In Search Of..." and "I Saw the Light." Mudhoney has always distilled its songs to the elemental, naturally rhythmic core, and on Under a Billion Suns the group is doing that again. They're older now, and a little more likely to yell at the TV. But everyone's crotchety when it comes to politics, so maybe a new Mudhoney record is exactly what we need to stay grounded.
Ben Blackwell writes about music for Metro Times . Send comments to [email protected].