They have the truth for you every time, [a]Pavement[/a]....
They have the truth for you every time, [a]Pavement[/a]. Have the same slouch, the same superbly articulate shrug, sure, but it’s the truth, the open-palmed, idly-tossed jewel in the esoteric fog that gets you. When they played in London last month, the group chiefly performed songs from this LP, and this is why. The songs may change. The essential thinking behind them doesn’t.
[a]Stephen Malkmus[/a]’ truth walks, hands in pockets, through ‘Terror Twilight’ as it has through the greatest [a]Pavement[/a] records, and pulls up to ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ and ‘Wowee Zowee!’ standing tall. He drawls it like he means it, throughout. “Architecture students are like virgins with an itch they cannot scratch”, he muses on ‘The Hexx’. “Never build a building till you’re 50/What kind of life is that?” Well, y’know. [I]Exactly[/I].
It’s this kind of thing that keeps [a]Pavement[/a] completely essential. No radical overhauls have been made: their titles oblique, their instrumentation out there, their singer so lackadaisical about his lyric composition (most of the vocals on the record weren’t put on until the mixing stage). The beauty on ‘Terror Twilight’ is more striking because it sounds like it’s been stumbled on while walking out to buy coffee, trainers or tofu.
All of which might seem a bit unlikely. Pre-publicity for the album in America had hinted that this was the band’s third crack at recording their fifth studio album, that if it didn’t work, they’d have considered packing it in, which didn’t sound like a promising prologue to what has turned out to be a wily but consistent album. Instead this is Another Very Good [a]Pavement[/a] Album, where the only real surprise – and though fantastic, filled with giddying disorientation it is not – is that its producer is Nigel Godrich, whose technique chiefly consists of weaving a coherent production narrative out of seemingly accidental noise. [a]Pavement[/a] were doing that, y’know, anyway.
But hey. Or, as Malkmus shrugs on ‘Major Leagues’, “Relationships, hey, hey, hey…”. The important tone he cuts on ‘Terror Twilight’ is an early-30s equanimity with life’s vicissitudes, fallen off it a few times, but still riding a skateboard, amused and never frightened. He’s been “tired of the best years of my life”. Knows that, “Time is a one-way track/I’m never going back”. He could just be freestyling, and [a]Pavement[/a] songs might not be saddled with the most orthodox of songwriting techniques, but off the Malkmus cuff is copious wisdom thrown.
The group crackles with the same kind of insight and intelligence. Though there are songs on here (‘Major Leagues’, ‘Ann Don’t Cry’) which rely on a slightly formulaic countrified mode [a]Pavement[/a] have made their own, the odd places the group go musically (to The Groundhogs‘ ‘Split’ LP on ‘Platform Blues’, Pink Floyd on ‘The Hexx’, The Jackson 5 on latest single ‘…And Carrot Rope’) and their slack, unhurried handling of the whole procedure make it sound completely ingenuous. They’ve got a quality you can’t buy, and that’s personality.
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Irish folk tales scare the shit out of you. You’ve not looked hard at a foetus in a jar. Don’t drink from the tainted flute. This is [a]Pavement[/a]’s truth: it’s probably yours too.