By some strange quirk of coincidence (genuinely), I've been playing Melvins' Houdini a lot recently, just as it turns 30. What a magnificently weird beast it is - as this retrospective review by Pitchfork's Daniel Bromfield underlines.
Bromfield talks about it being "both definitive and transitional", and offers spot-on assessments of some of the tracks. For instance, he claims that "[t]he brilliance of 'Night Goat' lies in the way the drumbeat never gets off the ground" - and sure enough, that's what I love about it too, especially when the drums drop out and kick back in around the 3:40 mark. Dale Crover's contribution to 'Honey Bucket' is even better - that track giving way to 'Hag Me', described in the review as "so slow that it feels beatless, almost ambient ... a glacier moving under its own weight", and, as such, a callback to the proto-doom/drone metal of previous albums Bullhead and Lysol.
Bromfield's also right that 'Set Me Straight' is founded on "Crover's most straight-ahead rock beat" and as such comes across as a bit clunky, like a justifiably discarded Bleach demo, and that closer 'Spread Eagle Beagle' is a largely pointless patience-tester.
The second half of the album is generally far stranger, far less coherent and far less direct than the first. It seems as though it's the tracks on that half that Bromfield has in mind when he speculates that "had the Melvins actually spent some time with [Kurt] Cobain or a more reliable producer working this thing out, they might've made a better record". Perhaps - but they've got plenty of form for pissing about, so who's to say? Let's just revel in the fact that what they did produce - on the first half, at least - has very much stood the test of time.