Green Naugahyde marks the studio album return of Primus, this time featuring Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde, and Jay Lane (one of the band’s early drummers). The album follows 2003’s DVD / CD combo Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People and an indie release of rehearsals of classic Primus songs featuring Lane’s drumming from 2010.
After an obligatory intro (God! I am SO sick of intros!!!!), Primus subtlety crawls into it led by Claypool’s bass and semi-narrative vocals on ‘Hennepin Crawler’. It’s a rather uneventful way to open the album really, but the band make up for it with ‘Last Salmon Man’, a higher energy piece that sounds like it could easily have been on Sailing The Seas Of Cheese (1991). It’s got a rhythmic march to it and a classic sounding dissonant solo from LaLonde that makes you want to stomp around the pit with an angry face. ‘Eternal Consumption Engine’ continues to help the album gain momentum with its creepy carnival oompa stylings and pointed, yet heavily sarcastic lyrical nature, making no bones about mentioning Walmart shoppers directly. ‘Eyes of the Squirrel’ and ‘Extinction Burst’ take a darker, more experimental (if that’s possible) approach that is reminiscent of the Pork Soda (1993) material a bit. While it would seem that the band focused a lot of attention to detail on this record, it does seem to lack that high energy level that catapulted the band to success early on. ‘Moron TV’ is perhaps the best example of this. It’s classic Primus and you want to love it but it never reaches the crescendo you expect, the point of no return where you look at your friend and go, “Holy shit! Can you believe what they just did?!”
The highlights here come in the form of ‘Jilly’s On Smack’ and ‘HOINFODAMAN’. ‘Jilly’s On Smack’ is a right proper trip down the rabbit hole, led by the twisted dissonance of LaLonde’s guitar. It’s one of the few songs not led by the bass and deals pointedly with the disconnection drug addiction causes (although there are only a few lines in the song). It’s downright creepy and fits the title damn near perfectly. ‘HOINFODAMAN’ has a classic rock style guitar groove that is backed by a head-nodding, almost reggae style bounce from the bass and drums. It’s extremely dark and Claypool’s vocals are every bit as pissed off sounding as they were on Suck On This (1989) and Frizzle Fry’s (1990) more aggressive moments.
Really aside from ‘Hennepin Crawler’ and the acid trip ballad ‘Green Ranger’, all the songs here are extremely well done. It sounds like a lot of thought was put into Primus’ studio comeback and the attention shows, just like it did on the band’s most successful works. In short, Green Naugahyde has the songwriting prowess of Frizzle Fry and Sailing The Seas Of Cheese with the energy level of Brown (1997).