If you had to sum up Stephen Malkmus’ music with one expression, “whatever’s clever” would be right on the money. The singer and songwriter, currently on tour with his band the Jicks, has been known for his genius wordsmithing for years. He’s been skillfully turning sharp and funny phrases he started the band Pavement back in the late 1980s. It was in 1992 when that band released their debut, Slanted and Enchanted, and Malkmus’ sardonic wit was cemented as one with the ability to slay.
Pavement was also instrumental in the lo-fi indie rock boom of that decade. The Jicks got going in 2000, around a year after Pavement threw in the towel. Going strong ever since, the band released their seventh album earlier this year, Sparkle Hard. A dynamic group of tracks, it glows with hooky appeal. The poppy nature of songs like “Bike Lane,” however, can’t lighten the subject matter. In that case, the tune is about the 2015 murder of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police. True to the group’s history, catchy and steadfast tracks often transcend between mild, plodding rock and more aggressive riffs.
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Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks are scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 22 at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $24 to $33. Visit crescentphx.com.