Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

In 1994 the music scene was dominated by the dying embers of grunge and the embryonic stirrings of Britpop. Into this climate Pavement released their second album, the one that really established them.  This is probably I'd use to introduce a Malkmus virgin to Pavement. It starts out with rousing anthem Silence Kit, with a melody which evokes about ten other songs yet, like Mercury, you can't quite grasp it.  The guitars on the album are a lot less rough than on Slanted and Enchanted.  The swirling, soaring guitars of Elevate Me Later and Gold Soundz are a joy to behold.  The latter of these is a sort of downbeat anthem that's emblematic of the album.

Stop Breathin' is slower and moodier as Stephen Malkmus implores the unnamed to "stop Breathin', write it on a postcard" over grindingly melodic guitars.  There are two hugely catchy songs on this album: the first is Cut Your Hair, introduced by insatiably addictive 'ooh-oohing'.  It's a sort of jokey call to arms: "did you see your drummer's hair... NO BIG HAIR!". It's a distillation of how judgemental you can be in your early twenties, where people get dismissed forever by virtue of a bad haircut or bad shoes.  The second of these is the countrified-as-f**k Range Life, fobbing off early 90s alt-rock Gods Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots ("elegant bachelors") over a lazily drawled strum

It's not all melodic wonder - 5-4 = Unity is plinky-plonk jazz tedium, while Hit the Plane Down is as annoying as any of the annoying tracks on Slanted.  But elsewhere it's a low key wonder.