Album review

Crazy Paving

One of the great triple-pronged US guitar bands, Pavement were always slightly more old-school nuts than the one-dimensional grunge gang they rose beside. Partially bedevilled by their refusal to offer a coherent blueprint, and the tendency for various band members to go AWOL or bonkers on stage, Pavement eventually mutated into Stephen Malkmus and his sundry stubborn visions.

This second solo album still sounds like a wilful jukebox stocked on the disparate taste of someone attempting vinyl hari-kari. The first track, "Water And A Seat", deviates between English folk-rock, prog-like jerks à la King Crimson and pastoral Dead-style chord changes, so after three minutes a glorious confusion reigns.

Being Stephen Malkmus, reference points are deliberately obscure. If you were looking for buried treasure, 'X' wouldn't mark the spot. The touches of Chrome, free-form jazz, shards of Television's axe-wonder and deadpan lyrics delivered like Holy Writ can induce seasickness in even the most avid sidewalk-surfer.

"(Do Not Feed The Oyster)" provides a glimpse into Malkmus' mad methods. Obviously, like Lennon, he's a Lewis Carroll fan. Prettiness and nonsense live side by side here. "Vanessa From Queens" possesses a queasy logic. And "Sheets" is virtual reality Todd Rundgren. If you're looking for the 21st Century Schizoid Man, Stephen Malkmus seems eminently qualified to hold down the job.

Rating: 4 / 10


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