Music Review: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, “Real Emotional Trash” * * * *
It’s probable that Stephen Malkmus will never escape the long shadow of his old band, Pavement — such are the wages of rock ‘n’ roll immortality — but his latest move to put the past to bed, “Real Emotional Trash,” is the first of his solo discs to reach par with Pavement’s catalog. Consider it Malkmus’ “Band on the Run”: the only real commonalities “Real Emotional Trash” shares with “Wowee Zowee” or “Slanted and Enchanted” are Malkmus’ voice, the fuzz of his amplifier and his half-crocked schoolboy wordplay, but it achieves excellence on its own terms. “Trash” luxuriates in long solos and exhilarating, stadium-sized spectacle, expressing true and refreshing love for ‘70s rock excess.
Credited to Malkmus and the Jicks, his longtime backing band that now features former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss, “Real Emotional Trash” is anything but refuse. Beginning with the Sabbath-like chords of “Dragonfly Pie,” Malkmus rolls out big melodies and oblique songs about Richard Avedon, a “nympho stuck in a cloister” and people “cursed to be named after jazz songs.” “Cold Son” and “Gardenia” serve up deliciously compact pop melodies, but each is festooned with hilarious non sequiturs that lay down challenges to their accessibility.
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