Album Reviews

Stephen Malkmus – Pig Lib

UK release date: 17 March 2003

Stephen Malkmus - Pig Lib One of the most fabulous things to come along in 2002 was Slow Century, a DVD featuring possibly every filmed moment of Pavement‘s decade-long existence as one of the more interesting and influential of early ’90s US rock outfits.

Pavement’s ‘grand fromage’ was a man cursed to have to forever have the phrase ‘clever wordplay’ in every sentence written about him – Stephen Malkmus. He has since dismissed his past, headed off into yoga before eventually resurfacing with a rather splendid self titled affair in 2001.

Pig Lib is the follow-up, this time with his previously vaguely-credited backing band The Jicks sharing the credits and production. They add a fullness and wider spectrum for Malkmus’ arch couplets of mid-thirties relationship crises, and deserve their promoted billing. The sound ranges from skewery psychedelic pub-folk-rock on Water And A Seat, an acoustic accordion flourish on the cute Craw Song to sounding almost like an alcoholic Sparks on Dark Wave.

As for memorable tracks, Vanessa From Queens is fun and sexy-in-a-Niles-Crane kinda way, and some pleasing prog angles develop during Witch Mountain Bridge and the nine minute plus space-out of 1% Of One. Ramp Of Death recalls the nice quiet little treats that littered Pavement’s catalogue, while Animal Midnight has a groovy organ noodle thing going on. However, with a shortage of proper tunes going on it’s more of a slow burner than an instant debilitating crush, and may take a few plays to truly sink in before being truly loveable.

If you’re of the age when the last time you got sweaty in a Sonic Youth t-shirt was when you were putting up shelves and your Christmas stocking contained Kurt Cobain’s Diaries alongside the customary five pack of M&S socks and festive tub of Maltesers, then there’s a likelihood you’ll be interested. Newcomers would be best advised to start with the re-issue of Slanted & Enchanted and work their way on from there.

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More on Stephen Malkmus
Stephen Malkmus – Traditional Techniques
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks @ Asylum, Birmingham
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Sparkle Hard
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Wig Out At Jagbags
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic