Monday, March 28, 2016

Pavement - Terror Twilight

Pavement's fifth album, released in 1999, gets little attention in comparison to their earlier stuff, but it's quite a likeable album.  After a red herring in the form of a load of drums colliding, Spit On A Stranger is a gorgeously laidback slab of guitar rock.  Duelling banjos introduce Folk Jam which maintains a kind of mellow, driving mood.  You Are A Light, is equally tuneful and laidback with elements of Beck creeping in here and there, before a blistering yet brief guitar solo.  So all very chilled but... it's Pavement, so where's the fuzzy mess?

Cream of Gold turns the intensity up a bit, with harder riffs, but this is then followed by the most gloriously summery Major Leagues, which is almost made for radio.  The playing on this track is subtle, no instrument dominating too much, and Stephen Malkmus' vocal is understated.  Still trying to be Malkmus, but in an understated way.

No Pavement album would be complete without its jarring moments, and Platform Blues provides those with clattering rhythms but even this seems to absorb the general tunefulness of this album as the riffs resolve themselves into one of their more inventive songs, with multiple parts, some of them easy on the ear, some of them not so much.  Just when you think you might have to get up off your backside and do something here, Ann Don't Cry returns the album to horizontal status, it's another really pleasant tune, which should be a criticism but isn't at all on this album.

Towards the end the album gets looser with the all-over-the-shop faux-jazz Speak, See, Remember, a better song than that description indicates.  The Hexx is downright sultry, a simple, descending melody but with some fantastic guitar work, real guitar hero stuff.  A pity then that the album ends with the somewhjat out of place, jaunty And Carrot Rope.  But, that aside, a damn good album.  In an age of imitators, these guys do Pavement better than anybody.