thu 21/10/2021

CD: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Mirror Traffic | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Mirror Traffic

CD: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Mirror Traffic

Produced by Beck, this is a pleasantly laid-back return to form

If Pavement fans have recovered from the excitement of last year’s reunion then they may find their pulses racing once more when they hear Stephen Malkmus and the Jick’s new album which is produced by Beck (no less).

Mirror Traffic is a pleasant, more laid-back record than Real Emotional Trash, Malkmus’s notably rocky previous offering. Erring on the conventional side, it combines an early-indie sound inviting comparisons with Blur and Grandaddy, with noticeable fine tuning to the Jicks’s quirky and complex musical arrangements for which Beck should probably be credited.

At 15 tracks long the album has some definite wheat and chaff. Among the prize kernels are the glorious “Tiger", “Gorgeous George”, a camp and playful ditty with an electric riff that sticks in your head, “Senator”, a proper Nineties throwback dissing the establishment (includes pronouncements such as “I know what the senator wants/ What the senator wants is a blow job”), and the more thoughtful-sounding, but actually wicked, “All Over Gently”.

If anybody had asked me (which they didn’t, obviously) I’d have suggested leaving out the likes of “Jumblegless”, which is purely instrumental and sounds like Muzak. Also on my scrap list would have been the infinitely forgettable “Long Hard Book”. As would track eight, which, despite being not bad, is called “Spazz”, so (in this politically correct clime) just shouldn’t be allowed.

All told, the album is a considered return to form and made me immediately replay old Pavement records after listening. Containing the diversity of styles and approach of Wowee Zowee but in more conventional packaging and pared back, perhaps by Malkmus’s age and experience, it makes for enjoyable listening.

The album also contains the best opening line I’ve heard for a long time - “I caught you streaking in your Birkenstocks/ A scary thought in the 2Ks” – which sort of summarises the abstractly middle-class, grown-up hippy ethos of the thing.

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