Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks – Wig Out At Jagbags 12 inch

$35.00 (AUD)

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By now, Stephen Malkmus has released more music as a solo artist than he did with his old band Pavement. This might surprise people like me, who given a few beers and a tolerant audience will still lapse into vague, sentimental reminiscences about seeing Pavement in late 1999, a few weeks before Malkmus got onstage in Brixton with handcuffs around his mic stand, telling the audience—in a rare moment of disclosure—that the cuffs were a symbol. This, it turns out, is how a poet breaks up a band.

In retrospect, their breakup marked a moment when indie-rock's narrative started moving away from the sloppy, casual grace of the 90s toward bands like the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who wore tighter jeans, had more conventional sex appeal, and played like there was something at stake. The irrelevance of Malkmus's solo career was a foregone conclusion.

All things considered, he's taken it well, turning out albums at a regular clip, none of them exceptional but none bad either—and crucially, none that suggest that he's fixated on the past. They're fussier than Pavement albums, with intricate guitar parts and carnival-like shifts in rhythm that Pavement would have either found too showy or just too much of a chore to play. There's more focus on the fineries of production and arrangement, too. (You won't find trombones on Pavement albums.) They're also goofier, which some listeners might find awesome, but I find a little annoying. Free from the intensities of being pretty much any age under 30, he now seems like what his critics always claimed he was as Pavement wore on into the late 90s: A smart dude horsing around.