Only a few brother duos in pop-music history can claim to have developed an extremely unique singing style. Alongside such pioneers as the Everlys and the Louvins we can place Curt and Cris Kirkwood, of the brilliant and famously nonconformist band Meat Puppets.
The pair's trademark close harmonies—casual twang, verging on phlegmatic—may be an acquired taste, but you won't mistake them for anyone else's, whether the accompanying music is a gentle country lope, a psychedelic daydream or a dada-punk firestorm.
Originally from Phoenix and lately of Austin, Meat Puppets have experimented with those extremes and more during a career of 30-plus years. Most of that time has found Curt on guitar and Cris on bass; the drummer on this recording, the third since the group reconstituted itself, is Shandon Sahm, son of the legendary Doug Sahm.
Although the opening track, "Incomplete," is atypically forgettable, once this album kicks into gear, it includes song after song with fascinating textures and clever tune-craft.
"Orange" and "Hour of the Idiot" flaunt a trippy equilibrium that seems to recall prog rock. "Lantern" hews to a bouncy cow-punk paradigm, while "Town" is a charming take on the Grateful Dead's rambling style of lysergic roots rock. "Way That It Are" has an almost-Spanish guitar foundation melded with grunge overtones. The '60s garage-pop flavor of "Damn Thing" is beguiling, and the sunny reggae bounce of "Shave It" gives way to bubbling new-wavey bleeps.
Lollipop is one of those albums which you can listen to multiple times and continue to find new treasures within.