Stephen Malkmus - Stephen Malkmus - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Stephen Malkmus - Stephen Malkmus

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:2001-02-12

"In a funny way, the shaving of my head has been a liberation", announces a voice on "Jo Jo's Jacket". "It has simplified everything for me, and it has opened a lot of doors". It doesn't take a detective to crack this thinly-veiled statement of intent; when Steve Malkmus, boyish frontman of lo-fi trailblazers Pavement finally jumped ship from his mother-band in 2000, reasons were thin on the ground. Perhaps, then, this is the spirit of Stephen Malkmus: the King of the Cryptic Couplet freed from his 11-year yoke and embarking on an ultimate loosening-up exercise--the eponymous debut solo album. Odd, though, that it should sound exactly like Pavement. Stephen Malkmus is a close relative of Terror Twilight--a neatly-polished showcase of shambolic art-pop, with a grinning, brotherly Malkmus dropping wisecracks every inch of the way. It sure sounds like he is having fun, indulging in vicious pirate fantasies on "The Hook", claiming to be "the King of Siam" on "Jo Jo's Jacket"--and isn't that him yodelling in the background on "Phantasies"? The only problem is, there is precious little of the disarming tenderness that once made Pavement's quirkier rough edges so endearing. If this is the sound of a man liberated, it's a shame he sounds so reluctant to be straight with us, just this once. --Louis Pattison

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