Local Wire

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks

"The Jicks is funky music. They is a powerhouse." So it says in the artwork that accompanies this third offering from Stephen Malkmus' post-Pavement outfit. On first glance at said artwork, with its nonsensical collages — not to mention the beginning of opening number "Dragonfly Pie," which drips with midtempo big-rock guitar fuzz — you might think Malk­mus has aimed his time machine at 1994 for another whirl through the vibe of Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. But Malkmus, as it turns out, doesn't have nostalgia on his mind. It might've been hard to imagine at the time of Pavement's tragic fade-out, but life as a "solo" act has been good for Malkmus' creativity. As far as this-bird-is-flown artists go, he's on a short list of ones who've put their fan base through the least frustration. That's because — a-ha! — he's only pretending to fly solo. Originally conceived as a band until Matador pressured Malkmus into adding his name to the marquee, the Jicks have perfectly preserved the spirit of Pavement in spite of fundamental differences. Pavement was arguably never about becoming a band, but about somehow forcing a bundle of rough edges into raggedly glorious music instead. The Jicks, however, can't disguise their elegance, no matter how much they rough it up for aesthetic effect. And like a soup whose ingredients come together the longer it sits, Malkmus' influences — piano-driven blue-eyed soul, touches of Santana, the Who, garage rock, etc. — have jelled so well that you don't even notice he's re-invented himself.
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Saby Reyes-Kulkarni