Release Date: Dec 9, 2008
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Fans of the ’90s’ preeminent lo-fi-literati rockers tend to divide themselves like different gangs from The Warriors — some are fiercely loyal to the clean accessibility of 1994’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, others to ’95’s more jammy, obtuse Wowee Zowee. But ’97’s ”mainstream”-friendly Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition, now reissued with 32 extra tracks, is a trove of effortless pleasures, from the pogo-party frolic ”Stereo” to the rickety, fuzzed-up gem ”Date w/ Ikea.” Many of the unreleased, B-side, and cover tracks here are less immediate, but no less joyful for the Pavement completist. A Download This: Listen to a clip of the song ”Harness Your Hopes” on matadorrecords.com .
At university, the guy whose band Pavement "were" had this amazing collection of 100s of toy robots – in plastic and tin – plus, action-figures from movie-franchises, many in their original packaging. He wasn't like Comic Bookstore Guy from The Simpsons, he just liked living in a toy museum. Plus, he spent one summer in a Joe Camel costume, and looked like Freddie Mercury without the overbite; in other words, a walking Pavement-lyric.
These days, Stephen Malkmus doesn’t care if you like his music. If the occasionally charming but mostly formless jamming of Real Emotional Trash doesn’t ooze ambivalence, check out his live show. Even with Janet Weiss on the drums now, it’s like walking into a rehearsal: Malkmus with his head down, slumped over his guitar, noodling away. Tough to watch and more than a little disappointing coming from a guy who is capable of so much more.
Within Pavement’s brilliantly art-shambled oeuvre, Brighten the Corners has always been the record plagued by the middle-child syndrome: The first three albums (the frenzied studio experiments of Slanted and Enchanted, the warm, classic rock-imbued Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, and the schizoid sprawl of Wowee Zowee) have all secured their places in the pantheon of Classic and Immortal Rock LPs, and their fifth record, Terror Twilight, is allowed to get by on its spacey, mellowed Nigel Godrich-styled charm and as a melancholic farewell to the band. That leaves Brighten the Corners occupying a darkened, underrated corner of Pavement’s catalog. As an album that collects and streamlines the wilder sounds of its predecessors, it was the first record in which Pavement ceased to surprise and simply went about the business of being a touring and recording rock band.
There's a difference between accessibility and focus, which Pavement illustrate with their fourth album, Brighten the Corners. Arriving on the heels of the glorious mess of Wowee Zowee, the cohesive sound and laid-back sarcasm of Brighten the Corners can give the record the illusion of being accessible, or at the very least a retreat toward the songcraft of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. And the record is calm, with none of the full-out blasts of noise that marked all of their previous releases.
By 1997's Brighten the Corners, Stephen Malkmus had proven the most pivotal and prolific voice of the slacker generation. From tongue-in-cheek single "Stereo" and the pendulous crunch of "Transport Is Arranged," Pavement's underrated fourth album marks the California outfit's most consistent and complex work, solidifying the middle ground between the fractured, lo-fi abstractions of seminal 1992 debut Slanted and Enchanted and Wowee Zowee!'s sedated eclecticism three years later. Nicene Creedence Ed.