Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash (Matador, 2008)
Malkmus' most sympathetic and in tune band since Pavement gives him solid and challenging backing on this ten song LP. The music is crisp and well played (particularly Janet Weiss' drumming, which gives everything just the right kick) with witty songwriting and performances that reach out past the five minute mark, but never resort to noodling. Energetic interplay between guitars and drums is the key to the successful performances found here. "Dragonfly Pie" weds snarling guitar rock to a singsong pop chorus. "Real Emotional Trash" builds slowly to a sludge rock jam, clocking in at ten minutes plus, but working surprisingly well. "Hopscotch Willie" is one of the highlights of the disc, with some of the strongest songwriting on this tale of crime and punishment. "Gardenia" is another highlight, a joyful burst of pure pop candy, sure to infuriate the flannel wearing indie rock enthusiasts. The taught "Cold Son" is a finely crafted performance with some interesting wordplay in the lyrics. Inscrutable lyrics also fill "Baltimore" which includes abrupt tempo changes and a near pro-rock structure. Thoughtful lyrics and music that is always stretching for something more make this is a solid and interesting album of modern rock and roll.
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