Malkmus paves new way

by Beacon Staff • April 2, 2008

After releasing five studio albums with Pavement, one of the most influential independent rock bands of the 90s, Malkmus and the rest of the members of the group went their separate ways and began working on different projects.,At age 41, it's difficult to imagine Stephen Malkmus ever stopping to re-examine his career choices. The former Pavement lead singer is currently touring with his band, The Jicks, and will be performing at the Paradise Rock Club on Thursday, April 3.

After releasing five studio albums with Pavement, one of the most influential independent rock bands of the 90s, Malkmus and the rest of the members of the group went their separate ways and began working on different projects.

Real Emotional Trash is the latest record from Malkmus and the Jicks. The band has released three other albums in the past seven years, including 2003's Pig Lib, which was well received by critics.

Malkmus's songwriting style hasn't changed much in the years he's spent in and out of different projects.

In an interview with Pitchfork Music in December 2007, Malkmus explained that, despite the ups and downs of his journey, his mechanics haven't changed at all.

"It's still a mix-up of imagery and lines that are varying degrees of connected with what they're supposed to, so it's not really anything overarching," he said. "I don't really know the spirit of it exactly, it's just the same spirit that I've always had: cool lines and just going with the flow of the music."

Going with the flow has appeared to work quite well for Malkmus; Real Emotional Trash is a brooding, tightly-mixed collection of sprawling, loud numbers and while it may not feel as charmed and as poignant as a Pavement album might have sounded fifteen years ago, there's quite a bit to discover on Real Emotional Trash.

In the same interview, Malkmus explains that Real Emotional Trash has a "few triple part saga acid mind blowers, there's a token weird time signature, in your face one, [and] there's a couple of short ones far more direct and straight ahead."

In "Dragonfly Pie," a fuzzy, distorted guitar riff provides the backbone for Malkmus's steadily growing voice, which builds until finally exploding in the bouncing, bubbly chorus. Most of the tracks on the album are dark, heavy and follow no particular structure, and, for the most part, Real Emotional Trash is a solid rock album that escapes feeling like a novelty.

Malkmus might not be the same artist he was back in the early nineties, but he hasn't lost his ability to perform. On stage, he grips the guitar like a rifle and appears to tower over the microphone. He rocks gently to the music and pumps his foot to the rhythm. The crowd bobs their head in unison, and although most of them likely grew up listening to Slanted and Enchanted; they have all clearly come out to hear Malkmus perform.

It would appear as if, at the ripe age of 41, Malkmus's age has not eclipsed his desire to write music. Even after having a hand in well over ten studio albums, he doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon, either.