Stephen Malkmus - Mirror Traffic
It's next to impossible to talk about any new Stephen Malkmus album without relating it in some way or another to his monumental 1990's work with slacker icons Pavement. Malkmus returns, backed once again by The Jicks, on August 23rd with a new album Mirror Traffic.
At it's core, there is some great stuff on the new record. It opens with "Tigers", a tune built around a solid lick. "Tune Grief" is an entertaining playful romp. "Spazz" is just that, a frenetic and spastic free form guitar number that keeps you on your toes.
The lead single "Senator" pulls together all of the best elements of Malkmus' music. The politically-themed song is catchy, with an engaging off-kilter pace. Of course, it's all capped off with unlikely lyrics, including the chorus 'what the Senator wants is a blowjob'.
The main difference between the glory days of Pavement and Malkmus' solo work is that he just can't sustain the quirky arrangements and delightfully nonsensical lyrics over the course of an entire album on his own.
Too many of these tracks are plodding and, well, dull. Pavement had their fair share of songs that seemed interminable as well, but usually the band was able to add some twist or sudden shocking element that would redeem the entire effort. Mirror Traffic tracks like "Share The Red", "Long Hard Book", and "Fall Away" don't have that benefit.
The tepid "No One Is (As I Are Be)" has horns that float in and out of the disembodied track. The result is a track that seems more suited to the oeuvre of Mirror Traffic's producer, Beck, than it is to Malkmus.
In the end Mirror Traffic has just a few too many songs on it that are less than gripping. Malkmus could've had a pretty solid 10-track album here. By including 15 cuts what we really have is an album that sounds bloated and disjointed. Sometimes less is more.
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