3/31/2008

No Garbage Here


[Cover art courtesy of allmusic.com]

STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS
Real Emotional Trash

(Matador-2008)

On Slow Century, the DVD filmed during the tour in support of Pavement's final album, 1999's Terror Twilight, we're told there's a scene in which lead singer Stephen Malkmus compares being in a band to the pair of handcuffs dangling from a mic stand. While that may have been intended as a reference to the constraints of that format, what he has done since then seems to indicate that it was being in that particular situation, and not in a band per se, that Malkmus felt was confining.

Starting with his self-titled solo album in 2001, the singer/guitarist has kept quite busy, releasing four albums imbued with his trademark wit and singular wryness as well as a marked sense of six-string freedom with a lot more in common, with say, The Grateful Dead, or more to the point, Lou Reed or Television, than traditional indie rock. (That these albums resemble closely the aforementioned Terror Twilight, which Malkmus appears to have written single-handedly, has made the case for some to consider it his unofficial solo album.) His latest, Real Emotional Trash, with his band The Jicks, is indebted to elements of both classic and prog-rock--five tracks exceed the six-minute mark, with one of them clocking in at just over ten minutes--but offers up enough of his stream-of-consciousness lyrics and stock-in-trade tunes to make it palatable to both fans of his former band and newcomers alike.

Highlights: the anthemic "Out of Reaches", "Elmo Delmo", and the title track.

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