Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Stephen Malkmus
Stephen Malkmus

The kings are dead; long live the king.

Following the protracted demise of Pavement last year, it seemed that perhaps all was lost, that Stephen Malkmus had abandoned his throne once and for all, leaving no-one to take his place. While Birmingham’s Jameson have been making all the right noises, they’re no more than viable a prince regent and still need someone to keep the seat warm until it’s time for their domination. So not only is it quite surprising to find Malkmus back so soon, but once more sounding so vital and fulfilled.

Although to be fair to him, that ‘Terror Twilight’ as sounded so flat and lifeless was more to do with the overly constrictive production of Nigel Godrich, a man responsible for making every album he touches sound like it was recorded in a bread-bin (though Radiohead fans don’t seem to mind, perhaps because the majority of them already have their heads so far up their arse that the real world has long sounded dull and muffled). Instead, Malkmus alter-ego Clarence Skiboots has been let loose at the helm, and as a result, the music sounds more vibrant and effervescent than it has since 1995’s ‘Wowee Zowee’, full of echoing noise, with clanging guitars fighting for precedence over Malkmus’s skewed vocals.

In place of the good ol’ Pavement boys behind him, this album sees Malkmus backed by the Jicks, namely bassist Joanna Bolme and former Elliott Smith drummer John Moen, though you probably won’t really notice the difference, with only Scott Kannberg’s dissonant guitar missing from the sound. As is his way, Malkmus’ lyrics are as obtuse as ever, ranging from tales of being kidnapped by Turkish pirates on ‘The Hook’ to an auto-biographical account of Yul Brynner’s life, while his penchant for English league football once rears its head as Stoke-on-Trent finds its way into ‘Pink India’.

For all the trauma and upheaval that led to this album, it seems that it has really been worthwhile. If Malkmus can continue to sound this wonderful, then Jameson are gonna have one hell of a long wait for that crown.