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Mr. Bungle - California CD (album) cover

CALIFORNIA

Mr. Bungle

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.98 | 147 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Mr. Bungle's third and final studio album would be their most restrained, and ultimately most accessible release. The insanity of Disco Volante is now replaced with melodic, catchy, and ultimately fun music that takes cues from surf rock, bubble gum pop, and light jazz. However, there's still some bits and pieces of insanity here and there, they are just spread apart more and they aren't nearly as crazy as previous albums. Despite that, California remains a great last effort from the group, although it doesn't reach the greatness of the previous two albums.

Favorites of mine on this album are the first piece, Sweet Charity, which takes many cues from surf rock and pop of the 60s with lush vocals and a twangy guitar sound that is more addictive than anything else. In fact, most of the songs on this album are in this vein, although you'll find bits and pieces of other drastically different styles here to counteract this one. Other favorites are Pink Cigarette (which makes nods to Ennio Morricone and to a lesser extent John Zorn's nods to Ennio Morricone), and the incomparable None of Them Knew they were Robots, which explores 60s sci-fi soundtrack music with surf rock and quasi-doo wop. Whatever it is, the first two songs on the album are ultimately my favorite pieces, although every song has a magic to it.

In the end, I can't really say that this is the best or most representative Mr. Bungle album. However, it's their lightest most accessible, which may make it a good starting point. Saying that, if you do get this album first, don't expect this to be anything similar to the previous two albums, those albums are much much much more out there and are a lot more experimental than this album. California is a good album, but I'd say it's my least favorite in the Bungle catalog (although I still really enjoy it).

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |

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