REAL EMOTIONAL TRASH
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
For almost 20 years, back to his beginnings in the band Pavement, Stephen Malkmus has been famous for writing lyrics that carried no trace of rock 'n' roll sentiment. High on their own internal music, juggling vocabularies and voices, they gave no warning when their stories or rants or descriptions were going to lapse into nonsense. They were powerful, haughty non sequiturs sung in a nonsinger's voice.
But part of Malkmus was drawn to the most sentimental rock of all: late 1960s hippie-rock, with the kind of all-consuming guitar fuzz and improvising that have always been understood (and written about) as a route to higher consciousness. This led to a pretty effective paradox on the Pavement album Wowee Zowee (1995), and since he started making his own records seven years ago, he has been slowly turning up the knob on it.
Real Emotional Trash, his fourth album since the disbanding of Pavement, still has all that glibly indirect lyric writing. (Like this, from Cold Son: ''to my wheel-well you're getting close/so say adios/the conjecture is reject the rose.'') But it's a record that builds serious, musical and very direct jamming into nearly every song.
Its peaks (Hopscotch Willie, Real Emotional Trash, Elmo Delmo) are multipart bonanzas with long minor-key guitar solos over vamps and steady, patient, midtempo grooves. The album is both a generous, transparent body pleasure and a flinty, oblique mind pleasure. It's like being hit over the head with a deadpan.
It's also well rehearsed, with dynamic hills and dales. His band the Jicks, with a strong new drummer Janet Weiss, once of Sleater-Kinney helps bring the large-canvas energy of a concert, specifically one that might have been played many years ago by the Doors, the Grateful Dead or the Allman Brothers.
New York Times