Friday, November 18, 2016

Pavement - Brighten the Corners

After the all over the shop Wowee Zowee, 1997's Brighten the Corners was a kind of 'back to basics' for Pavement, and it's definitely an easier listen than its predecessor.  It opens with the smart ass rock of Stereo, which has a great moment when Stephen Malkmus sings "what about the voice of Geddy Lee, how did it get so high, I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy" and he's answered by "I know him, and he does", and Malkmus answers "then youu're my fact-checking cuz".  It's SO knowingly cheesy, which makes it actually brilliant.  More melodic is Shady Lane, which has warm guitar lines and a singalong chorus.  Midtempo grooves are the order of the day here with songs like Transport Is Arranged, We Are Underused and Type Slowly, which all have a fairly amiable laidback vibe and nonsensical lyrics, the latter featuring the memorable line "one of us is a cigar stand", before easing into Tom Verlaine style guitar heaven.  Date with IKEA is one of their more generic, yet accessible rockers, and would fit in fine on any indie music station (if we still had one), while Malkmus unleashes some fine guitar work in Old to Begin.

Embassy Row starts out a little like late period VU but then scorches off into a streaky rocker.  Blue Hawaiian provides a change (down) of pace, with classic Malkmus muttered lyrics ("your cheeks have lost their lustre").  The understated Starlings of the Slipstream is a late highlight, again it's highly melodic though not a predictable, hackneyed, borrowed tune, rather something that sounds original and strangely addicitve.  The album finishes with Fin, something which will allow you drift off on a sea of guitars.  Which is a good thing.

If you're looking for an example of what 90s indie is, this isn't too far away.  A kind of 'grower', if ever there was a "three and a half star" album, this is it.