Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: Mirror Traffic

Malkmus has used his experience to his musical and lyrical advantage on this latest album.

Mirror Traffic

(Domino)

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Not all of Stephen Malkmus's albums have been this easy to listen to. His 1990s group Pavement has been called the greatest Indie rock band ever by music elites, but not all of their music was digestible for the masses. Malkmus's half-talk, half-sing crooning style, and the fact that most of his songs sound like they're just seconds from falling apart, may take some getting used to. But at this point in his success one might ask, why would he want to change? Fans still salivate at the idea of that one, last Pavement album.

The band's eagerly awaited reunion tour in 2010 was a music nerd's heaven. Luckily for listeners who never got used to Malkmus's stylings, he has gleaned some production know-how from fellow "slacker" icon Beck to put out a lightly experimental album. With Beck's help, the dirty quirks of the music have been lightly smoothed out, and Pavement fans need not worry about the signature sound being interfered with. No One Is (As I Are Be) has the smoothness of anything from Beck's most melodic album Sea Change, but Malkmus's no-frills voice and guitar work are his own.

Stick Figures in Love, with its chugging momentum and vigorous strumming, reminds us that this is Malkmus in top musical form. He's used his age and experience to his musical and lyrical advantage. He's never been pretentious about his music and because of that the tunes have aged with him and will always be relevant to his devotees.

Published: August 23, 2011 04:00 AM

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