Release Date: Mar 4, 2008
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
Stephen Malkmus' solo career seems to be settling into a pattern of alternating between skewed, spiky pop albums bearing his lone credit and long, languid collections of jams with the Jicks -- as 2005's Face the Truth belonged to the former category and its 2008 follow-up, Real Emotional Trash, fits neatly into the latter. That's not to say that this is a retread of the lazily intriguing, formless Pig Lib. Where Pig Lib wandered aimlessly, adrift on its insular guitars, Real Emotional Trash is focused and propulsive, even if the band invariably circles around a point instead of tackling it directly.
After the ominous, chugging riffs that set the pace for opener "Dragonfly Pie" and the rest of Real Emotional Trash, Malkmus intones, "You are the bold expression/ Of all your parents' flaws. " In the next verse he addresses the unfortunate son again, who is "cursed to be named after jazz songs/ High school principles. " From on high, the Jicks' ringleader spits his acid condemnations of the preceding generation.
The blasting riff on Dragonfly, the first track on Real Emotional Trash, is about two chords shy of being a direct rip of Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf. That’s a prelude to the rest of the former Pavement singer’s bong-worthy new effort. Whether it’s because of the addition of drummer and Sleater Kinney refugee Janet Weiss or a concerted effort to move away from the insularity of 2005’s Face The Truth, Stephen Malkmus sounds rejuvenated by his Jicks mates.
Stephen Malkmus is back with the Jicks in tow for more of the extended guitar canoodling and occasional cosmic tinkering we expect from the one-time Pavement front man. With a freshly formed, tighter version of his band, Malkmus feels comfortable proving himself as a guitar rock mainstay, even if he has to put us through variable amounts of tedium in the process. Real Emotional Trash begins excitingly enough with the gloriously affable Dragonfly Pie.
Pavement, like David Lynch, seem to be an objective fact of culture. Almost two decades after the fact, Stephen Malkmus’ former band’s output still doesn’t quite sound like anything else. Their quartet of albums is required listening in the same way Lynch’s films are required watching: not yet part of official culture, they’re a socially-enforced rite of passage.