Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks -- Real Emotional Trash
In this, his fourth post-Pavement studio endeavor, Stephen Malkmus has created a record that sees indie-rock's long-reigning king of quirk drink from the goblet of classic rock. It's a stylistic shift not unlike last year's Sky Blue Sky, which saw Wilco attempt to occupy similar territory with mixed results. But where Jeff Tweedy let lengthy classic rock jams arduously run their course (see "Hate it Here" or "Shake it Off") , Malkmus (with Jicks in tow) has managed to infuse his jams with thrilling conclusions that make the build-up worth the wait, most notably on album stand-outs "Hopscotch Willie" and "Real Emotional Trash." And while many of the songs here are challenging (in that they defy standard song structures), Malkmus adds "Cold Son" and "Gardenia," the latter of which could match "Gold Soundz" and "Spit on a Stranger" in terms of pop accessibility.
Stephen Malkmus is, unluckily, one of a handful of artists that will never really get a fair review from me. Like Blake Schwarzenbach with Jets to Brazil, whenever I hear Malkmus' dry, affected vocal in a non-Pavement setting I find my ear yearning for those standard-bearers of the 90s indie sound. Real Emotional Trash is a solid record - anchored by the incomparable drumming of Janet Weiss - and yet every time I start listening to it I end up abandoning the project halfway through and slipping in Slanted and Enchanted. Maybe I should see someone about that. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.