Under Review: Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash

Separate the frontman of a band from his group and the results can often be unpredictable. It’s an age-old phenomenon, with the likes of Sting, Peter Gabriel and Lou Reed frequently eschewing the styles of their former bands for more experimental sounds. Of course, Stephen Malkmus has been at the solo artist game for quite some time, releasing the first album with his new band, The Jicks, a mere two years after Pavement‘s dissolution in 1999. With that record, Malkmus took on a new persona: that of the indie-rock jam master. True, the following albums, 2003’s Pig Lib and 2005’s Face The Truth, aren’t completely rooted in guitar pyrotechnics, but the finger-on-fret acrobatics add scores to Malkmus’ classic surreal songwriting. Whether you’re in it for the Jonathan Richman-esque lyrics or the most epic solos this side of Sky Blue Sky, you’ve got a friend in Real Emotional Trash. On past ventures, Malkmus and his Jicks have spiked in a lengthy song or two per record, but Real Emotional Trash boasts a scant 3 songs that run under 4 minutes (and that’s out of the album’s 10 tunes).

The centerpiece, without a doubt is the sprawling 10-minute title track, whose dynamics (and duration) follow in the vein of Pig Lib‘s “1% Of One”. Kooky characters abound, such as “Wicked Wanda”, “Hopscotch Willie” and “Elmo Delmo”. If you’re looking for the “Cut Your Hair” of this album, it would probably be lead single “Gardenia”, which serves as a few minutes of classic pop craft that shows that Malkmus doesn’t have to fill his tunes with guitar heroism, he chooses to. Pavement were infamous for occasionally being too eclectic for even their most devoted fans. Now, a more grown-up Malkmus has not only established himself as a capable solo entertainer, but the augmentation of an incredibly tight band (featuring Sleater-Kinney‘s Janet Weiss) has only made a great performer even better. Then again, it may only be a matter of time until we get Wowee Zowee 2: Polka Parade.

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~ by E. on March 3, 2008.

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