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Album Review: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

I remember in the 90s being as Pavement obsessed as the next guy- a lot of classes spent scribbling lyrics on my shoes rather than learning the periodic table, so it’s not much of a stretch for me to completely geek out when Stephen Malkmus releases his fifth post-Pavement album and 3 rd (or 4 th)  with The Jicks. The album, Mirror Traffic, is released on Monday from Domino, and will sadly be the last album that will include Janet Wiess (The Joggers) behind drums.

Opener ‘Tigers’ sounds like a tongue and check take Pete Yorn’s ‘Just Another’ at first until it goes to the wonderfully catchy chorus of being a tiger. It’s the perfect way to introduce the album that drifts between sunset California driving music, to lo-fi rock, to flavours of Beach Boy joy.

‘Senator’ has a catchy hook with, ‘I know what the Senator wants is a blow job,’ and what’s so genius about Malkmus is he might have a line like that to give you a chuckle, but the rest of the song is an intelligent observation of the current state of affairs in the States.

‘Asking Price’ is that desolate, California alt-rock that if you’re fan of the genre it’s hard to get enough of.  The guitar solo on ‘Spazz’ drags a little and feels slightly repetitive, but the rest of the tune still proves to be enjoyable. ‘Share The Red’ bounces along sounding a bit like Canadians, The Weakerthans, when they came out with Reconstruction Site. ‘Tune Grief’ the most rock of all has moments where you can feel the Beach Boy influence with that beach party sound.

The album is produced by Beck Hansen, and when you think of early Beck, there doesn’t seem to be a better producer who will completely understand what the album’s sound should be. There are notes of Ben Kweller from his Sha Sha days, but with Milkmus being on the scene for around 22 years, it’s probably more likely he was influenced by Pavement more than the other way around.

The album is one you’re going to have to sit down and get comfortable for, as the fifteen tracks ease their way through speakers. Although it might seem long to those of us that have become used to the 10-12 track long player, Malkmus’ tracks are so dreamy and reminders of youthful days that you can’t help but enjoy every minute!

For more info head to stephenmalkmus.com and get your copy of the album on Monday!

 

-Stevie Pearce



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