Spiral Stairs - The Real Feel
With all of the hoopla over the now confirmed 2010 Pavement reunion shows, the release of Spiral Stairs' debut solo album has been quite overshadowed. Stairs, aka Scott Kannberg, has put out material post-Pavement with Preston School of Industry, but The Real Feel is his first under his ahem, own name.
Of course the first comparisons one is tempted to make are to the solo work of former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus. So I won't resist that temptation.
The Real Feel is a far more structured album than the meandering efforts we've been getting in Malkmus' recent output. A song like "True Love" is far tighter than any Malkmus single. With songs like the hook-filled ambler "Maltese Terrier", Stairs leans far more towards the pop sensibility than the self-indulgent freeform jams Malkmus offers up on an all too frequent basis.
Branching out in some different styles, Stairs offers up some country influence with the dirty bluesy "Subiaco Shuffle" and the weeper "A Mighty Mighty Fall". But he never strays too far from the rock, as things are jerked back into alignment with "Stolen Pills", a raucous rocker.
That's not to say that The Real Feel will make you forget Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain or Slanted and Enchanted. Far from it. Those albums were classics, almost completely without filler. On the new album we are given a couple of snoozers in "Blood Money" and the plodding "Wharf Hand Blues". Fleshing out the record are the title track instrumental and a spoken word outro "Ladies and Gentlemen" both of which are toss offs.
The Real Feel may not stack up well against classic Pavement material, but in terms of the band's post-breakup output it's pretty damn good.
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