Stephen Malkmus’ first solo album – and, actually his first album with the Jicks but he wasn’t allowed to say so – is very much what you would expect: less weird latter Pavement. And if you like the sound of that you’ll like it.
Malkmus’ songs are, as always, very catchy with just enough quirk to make them seem sophisticated. So much of the charm of Pavement is in the quirk and there’s definitely less of that here but I’m not sure that’s on the songs entirely.
As usual, Malkmus’ lyrics are a mixture of the very direct and the obscure, some of it seemingly autobiographical (as usual). I’ve always been fine with Malkmus’ lyrics though I’ve never been particularly blown away by them. I find these perhaps a little bit better than those on the other Jicks album I know.
So these arrangements are mostly much more straightforward than early Pavement, and a lot closer to latter day Pavement, which really isn’t a surprise. Occasionally it feels like the Jicks have more muscle but the real appeal is that Malkmus stretches out a little more than he used to. That’s even more true on later Jicks albums but, here, he shows off a little more that, when he wants to be, he’s a pretty great guitar player.
It’s cleanly produced like latter Pavement. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given that this band does know how to rock and Malkmus’ voice is strong enough to carry everything, even though he’s so often identified with “slacker.”
I like it a lot but I’m the kind of person who would. It’s hard for me to be too critical about something that hits me in the wheelhouse like this does.