by Ivan Krasnov
Midwestern rascals Lumpy & The Dumpers have been agitating the underground for some years now with their crude imagery and gross (but totally cool with me) infatuation with body parts and flatulence. Their tongue in cheek approach to the posturing and tribalism often present in punk scenes is best understood by the raw energy inhabiting their songs. There’s no pretension here, no embellishments or any overtly political stances - just pure punk deliverance. This all came to a head with 2016’s Huff My Sack, a cult favorite if only for its cover of a gremlin exposing its junk, though certainly thanks to stabs at contemporary American realities such as “I’m Gonna Move to New York” and “Blue Lives”.
This year’s Those Pickled Fuckers, released on the venerable La Vida Es Un Mus and Lumpy Records, continues Lumpy’s sardonic brand of rock and roll but with a newfound clarity and confidence. While the band previously revelled in a muddied sort of chaos, this latest effort has them sounding more like a well-oiled machine. Which is not to say that frontman Martin Meyer (also known as, you guessed it, Lumpy) has foregone his obsession with the grotesque. "Hair on the Inside" continues his focus on the deepest corners of the body, with Lumpy transfixed by the origins of body hair: “Hair on the inside/Hair on the inside/Do you even have a clue?/How it ended up in you?”
Tracks like "Attention," with its atonal buzzing sounds reminiscent of Devo, as well as “Clatter Song,” boasting spooky keyboards along with the clangs and crashes of auxiliary percussion, demonstrate a stronger no-wave abstraction than previous releases. Opening track "Passing Glass" is a prime example of Lumpy and his Dumpers’ current Mo - greeting the listener with an assault of no-wave noise while still maintaining a fart pun in the title. You can be sure then that the band continues to proudly fly their weirdo punk flag, yet they also refuse to be constrained by any limitations of genre.
Such sonic experiments certainly benefit from sharper engineering and mixing, as does Lumpy’s snarl of a voice, with ominous reverb on tracks like "Someone’s in the House" and "Clatter Song" lending everything some serious Halloween vibes. The former track, with its blues-like swagger and skronky saxophone part, has Meyer sounding like the host of a haunted house, warning the listener that “Someone’s been moving/Moving some things around/Someone’s in the house/But they never make a sound!” Years of touring along with recent lineup changes also mean that cuts like "Attention" and "Boiling River" truly shine in how well the Dumpers control their own chaos. But don’t dare think that just because they’re getting tighter, that Lumpy & the Dumpers have quit being the nasty little punk scoundrels that they are. The muck and grime they bathe in still follows them around - they’re just getting better at shaking it off.