The Mollusk isn’t as blatantly a guise album as the country record that preceded it, but in its own way it has a very distinct identity, as the flavours of nautical themes and progressive rock permeate through most of these tracks. It’s another step forward in professionalism from Chocolate and Cheese, with strong production and rich vibrant mixes that show off Ween’s musical abilities. At its best it’s dazzlingly creative, adventurous and musically intelligent. Surely no other band is capable of jumping from Irish pub sing-along to progressive rock epic, from show tune to parting sea shanty, and have such strong song-writing underpinning each effort.
Strangely, this album’s let down by its less ambitious material; most of the more extreme genre efforts are flat out brilliant, and it’s the safer compositions that aren’t as interesting. ‘I’m Dancing In The Show Tonight’ sets the tone with an irresistibly simplistic show-tune. The saltier tracks include the brilliant pub anthem ‘The Blarney Stone’, with a convincing Irish octogenarian vocal, the breezy ‘Ocean Man’, and the closing shanty ‘She Wanted To Leave’, which packs in a lot of emotion behind a fake Irish accent. The progressive rock parodies include the ridiculous lyrics and flute riff of the title track, ‘Mutilated Lips’ and the guitar histrionics of ‘Buckingham Green’. There’s also an ace cover of a Chinese folk song, ‘Cold Blows The Wind’, and another venture into Ween’s seventies AOR goldmine with ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’.
The explosion of musical colour on The Mollusk makes it a great left-field candidate for the best rock album of its decade.