WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 08, 2014|
Posted by: Jake Saunders
Pavement veteran Stephen Malkmus has definitely made his mark on the indie rock world both past and present. Already having his name solidified in history as frontman of everyone's facvorite 90s band, Malkmus had enough to live up to during his continued career. Fifteen years after Pavement's end, he has officially recorded more albums than the iconic band itself had. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks have continued to pump out imaginative records ranging from jam oriented to more concise material; the latter category to which The Jick's new and as always goofy titled, Wig Out at Jagbags belongs.
Seeking a change of scenery, and maybe even more importantly a sense of anonymity, Malkmus moved to Berlin with his family in 2011. He claims that living in the unfamiliar country provided a huge inspiration for the mood of the record. Malkums grants us few surprises with the new material. The album seems to take on that of a slightly more rigid structure than his older work, seeing as the songs focus more on the melodic and harmonic elements than those of the past, which seemed to revolve more around Malkmus rocking out with the his screaming distorted guitar licks that we all know and love so much.
Even still, Malkmus has continued to develop texturally and has found a tasteful balance between his development and familiarity. What is most admirable about Malkmus as an artist is that he's not in fact trying to surprise us at all. He knows what he's good at, and he sticks to it; and that is writing damn good rock songs. Malkmus put it best himself in an interview with The New York Post: "In the end I wanted to do what I was best at...I don't want to be a Chinese Restaurant and start serving Italian food!"
Rock-out tracks like "Rumble at the Rainbo" and "Scattegories" bring us back to the Pavement days, with other tracks relying more on classic rock elements such as the opener "Planetary Motion", a track that immediately reminded me of Hendrix circa Electric Ladyland. And yet Malkmus shows his more tame side on songs like "J Smoov" an acoustic ballad with a sweet horn section. His vocals are much more focused on their texture and timbre rather than lyrical choruses, shown in "Houstan Hades": "If love is Hades/For all you Slim Shadys/It's no wonder he smashes guitars/Turns the whole stage into a cool crime scene." Malkmus describes a lot of his lyrics as place holders, focusing much more on how the vocals sound rather than what they're saying. And as always his goofy, nonsensical humor is still fresh in his music, something we saw in the video for "Cinnamon and Lesbians".
It seems like the indie rock legend has not yet petered out at the ripe age of 47. I think we can always expect great quality tracks from Malkmus, and he must still have some gas in the tank because he's got a full tour lined up over the next couple of months. We'll chalk this one up as another success for Malkmus in his overall, very successful career.