Single Of The Week – STEPHEN MALKMUS : Discretion Grove

Charming, inscrutable and not quite as young as he looks...

Charming, inscrutable and not quite as young as he looks (“More intelligent, cooler, and better looking than your student teacher,” gushes one website), Stephen Malkmus is now just about the only conventional indie pop star left to idolise. Conventional being a relative term, of course, but still, ‘Discretion Grove’ features the kind of lop-sided guitars, arch singalongs and quite long words that have long proved too easy pickings for studiedly playful college boys.

Yet Malkmus practically invented this stuff and, as this first solo single proves, he remains the master of the genre. A death-defying mix of the catchy and obtuse, all chugging riffs and mysterious images – “over-age whores”, “ceremonial dead trees” and a “Celt alcoholic”, anyone? There’s a lot of escaping going on, too, possibly alluding to his flit from Pavement: “Believe, let it go/And leave”, he sings cheerfully. As with all his best songs, there’s either a lot more going on here than first appears, or a lot less, depending on your state of mind. Either way, .

John Mulvey