Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, ‘Real Emotional Trash’ (Matador)
Time to finally face the music, Malkmus mavens: Your hero may not make a great post-Pavement disc.
He came closest with his self-titled 2001 solo debut, a collection of crunchy pop whose most memorable track, “Jo Jo’s Jacket,” quotes Yul Brynner and supposedly skewers Moby, and whose longest number, “Pink India,” got the hook-to-wank ratio exactly right, clocking in at just under six minutes. Compare that with his latest album’s hook-free title track, a meandering, ten-minute-plus epic that milks Television’s “Marquee Moon” for all it’s worth-and less. Malkmus’ vocals were never his strong suit, and here the guy makes Tom Verlaine’s pinched warble sound positively diva-esque.
Still, Trash has its moments. Malkmus’ knack for encrusting sketchy compositions with beatific pop touches remains undiminished. “Wicked Wanda” features lovely Beatles-esque harmonies, “Elmo Delmo” unfurls the disc’s sexiest serpentine guitar, and “Out of Reaches” fades amid a deliciously chanted snatch of melody. That last track suggests intriguing possibilities if Malkmus ever abandons his seeming ambition to lead the world’s most inscrutable jam band and returns to crafting what an early Pavement EP dubbed the “perfect sound forever.”
But that seems unlikely. “I am not a present waiting to be opened up and parceled out again,” Malkmus sings on the tantalizing pop rocker “Gardenia.” No kidding.
Now Hear This: Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, “Cold Son” DOWNLOAD MP3
Read More: The Spin Interview: Stephen Malkmus (March 2008)