Ever since their conception in Deaner and Gener’s (Aaron Freeman & Mickey Melchiondo) middle school typing class, Ween had anything but a traditional take on rock music. Beginning initially with a lo-fi driven sound, the group evolved to include relatively advanced levels of production and musicianship in their unusually groovy records. Throughout the 90’s the production quality of the Ween discography began improving while still being charmingly lo-fi until the sonic musical climax that was The Mollusk in 1997.
Ween took Zappa-esque experimental rock mixed with psychedelic infused alternative rock and tied it all together in a dark, nautical concept album. Sounding as if you took an acid trip on the Jersey Shore (which the guys probably did), The Mollusk has a life to it filled with dark, yet often humorous lyrics, space-age sound effects, hypnotic panning and powerful glass-raising sea shanties.
It’s hard to coin a single song as the “strangest” on the record with so much hypnotic weirdness at play but a real strong contender would be the one semi-instrumental track Pink Eye (On My Leg). Starting off as somewhat of a jazzy instrumental, a series of dog barks and some prolonged groaning make this cleverly named and strangely groovy track so iconic of what you can expect from this album. Deep diving Ween fans will also notice that the track shares the same drum machine pattern as Kim Smoltz from the compilation album The Mollusk Sessions, along with some other notable sonic similarities. Apart from Pink Eye (On My Leg), songs like Waving My Dick In the Wind and Polka Dot Tail, showcase all the likable weirdness of Ween.
Perhaps the most glaring and noteworthy effect of this tremendous LP was its influence on Stephen Hillenberg and his creation of the SpongeBob SquarePants TV series. Apart from the use of Ocean Man in the SpongeBob SquarePants movie exposing Ween to many future fans, the dark, yet charming nautical concepts on the album were a direct influence on the inception of the show. Aside from it’s inclusion in the movie, Ocean Man remains Ween’s most well-known song establishing itself as a staple 90’s alternative rock song with it’s slowed down, surf-rock style guitar solo and the iconic voice effect over Gene’s voice.
The Mollusk was generally reviewed well upon release, and even better retrospectively but it really ought to be thrown in the mix when discussing the best alternative albums of the 90s. We at Melophobe ranked The Mollusk as the 23rd best alternative album of all-time. Between a handful of different recording locations and a handful of unique recording techniques from lo-fi tracks like I’ll Be Dancing in the Show Tonight, to top-notch studio recorded tracks like It’s Gonna Be Alright, the color and flare of Ween is showcased no better than on The Mollusk. This iconic alternative record is worth the spin every time and showcases much of Ween’s best work.