It's been more than a decade since Stephen Malkmus spearheaded Pavement's rather unlikely rise from obscurity to quirky college rock heroes. But now that the band has packed it in, fans of the low-fi indie faves have been left longing for something to match Pavement's offbeat wonder.
They may find the next best thing in Malkmus' debut solo album.
This 12-song set, recorded in various studios near Malkmus' new home base of Portland, Ore., will certainly appeal to those who loved Pavement's clattering blend of busted-up guitars, cryptic lyrics and underground pop sensibilities.
So check out those toy piano sounds that put as much of a shine on “Troubbble,” as do the Brit-pop high vocals and chunky organ that flavor “Vague Space.” Simmering below the surface of the minimal melodies of others songs such as “Trojan Curfew,” are delicate piano runs and graceful slide guitar traces, which add a cool, captivating presence. Such accents make up for Malkmus' often-monotonal vocal approach.
Another standout is the May-December or perhaps May-November infatuation heard on “Jennifer and the Ess-Dog,” which details an 18-year-old's dalliances with a guy in a '60s cover band. Those lyrics are intriguing, but not likely to trigger as much debate as “Jo Jo's Jacket,” which is either about Yul Brynner or Moby, or just maybe a little bit about both. Either way it's deliciously spicy and one more reason why “Stephen Malkmus” makes for some of the most interesting listening to come around early in 2001.