It should come as no surprise to longtime Ween disciples that quebec, the band's ninth studio effort, is an eclectic mix of wildly divergent musical genres, all rendered with expert craftsmanship, fluidity and more than a touch of the absurd.

Having proven themselves equally adept as whiskey-soaked country crooners (on 1996's 12 Golden Country Greats), prog-rock balladeers (1997's The Mollusk) and the reigning kings of white-boy funk (on their seminal 1994 release, Chocolate & Cheese), Gene and Dean Ween (ne Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo, respectively) are clearly unafraid to plunge headfirst into uncharted waters; that they do so successfully, and with such apparent ease, is a testament to their musicianship, which is often overlooked by onlookers who view them as a comedy team.

Not that such a conclusion would be totally off base. With past hits like "Hey Fat Boy (Asshole)" and "Waving my Dick in the Wind," Ween has always infused its tunes with crass silliness, and that offbeat humor is plenty evident on new cuts like "The F**ked Jam," a perplexing bit of instrumental noise, and the plodding "So Many People in the Neighborhood" ("How about a piece of pie?/Socks and lox and rocks/Stay inside, stay inside").

Elsewhere, the band has no trouble finding a groove, despite its relentless genre shifting. "It's Gonna be a Long Night" is a frenetic rocker that recalls the punk leanings of their ragged 1990 debut, GodWeenSatan, while "Transdermal Celebration" is a soaring, goofy anthem in the tradition of "The Mollusk" and "Right to the Ways and the Rules of the World." But perhaps "Chocolate Town" sums up quebec and Ween best, with its seamless fusion of heartbreaking, hook-laden melodies, pretty vocals and beautifully inane lyrics.

E-mail Rossiter Drake at

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