Local Wire

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks @ Crescent Ballroom

It never fails: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks release a new album (like they did last spring, issuing Mirror Traffic) and just about everyone says "It's the most like Pavement he's sounded since . . . well, Pavement." As you might imagine, it's a common statement, and only sort of irking to the members of the Jicks, who have been performing with Malkmus since 2000 (making the band's tenure with Malkmus slightly longer than Pavement's run). "Well, it's not really that annoying anymore," says bassist Joanna Bolme. "It was at first, just because aside from Steve's voice and a few of his sort of signature guitar styling and stuff, I don't really think we sound like Pavement. It's a little annoying, but whatever." While Mirror Traffic isn't quite Slanted and Enchanted Pt. 2, the record does share a little of the slack of Malkmus' former band, coming off as more relaxed than 2008 prog-adventure Real Emotional Trash. "I love that record, and I think the songs are great, but after touring it heavily, I think we got a little burnt on playing a bunch of nine-minute songs," says Bolme. "They were kind of darker or something. I think we were feeling a little bit lighter and wanted to express a more sunny side of the band, I guess." Sunny works to describe "Stick Figures in Love," the album's best track, but Bolme is quick to point out that in trademark Malkmus and the Jicks fashion, it's less obvious than it might seem at first. "There's always something tricky in there," Bolme says. "[It] sounds like a bouncy pop song on the surface, but there's some timing trickery in there, stuff that didn't feel natural at first, but now it does."

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.