Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Wig Out At Jagbags - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Wig Out At Jagbags

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2014-01-06

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks formed in the aftermath of indie-rock legends Pavement's hiatus/initial split in 1999. It no longer feels necessary, however, to give an elongated backstory to how the band came to be; The Jicks are over a decade into an impressive career and well and truly a great band in their own right. You can still play your copy of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain everyday but you shouldn’t ignore a record as wonderful as Wig Out at Jagbags.

The album follows on nicely from 2011's Mirror Traffic, with tonnes of punchy, intelligent pop nuggets from Malkmus’ ever-fertile brain. With Wig Out at Jagbags, Malkmus and his ever reliable Jicks have delivered a record imbued with a sense of sunny optimism and all the immediacy and directness of a debut release.

Some might miss the more sprawling, stoned and experimental nature of 2008's mighty Real Emotional Trash but Malkmus has never been one to repeat himself. Having said that, there are always certain elements you can rely on with any Malkmus release; the witty wordplay, the inventive guitar playing and creative song structures are all thankfully present and correct.  

The record starts with the 70s psych, almost-glam stomp of ‘Planetary Motion’ and we are immediately pulled into the orbit of Malkmus’ unique world. The Jicks create a life-affirming, free-flowing sound, a multi-coloured cauldron full of psych-pop stew. Anyone who’s seen The Jicks live will know what a fantastically tightly-knit band they are and how, frustratingly for the rest of us, they make it all look so easy. As Malkmus sings on ‘The Janitor Revealed’, “We were put on this earth to shine/ destined for greatness by design”.

Malkmus has always had a way with a gleefully surreal lyric, and Wig Out at Jagbags is full of those 'did he just say what I think he did?’ moments. Take this one from ‘Cinnamon and Lesbians’: “Onward you Christian sailors/ you smooth talking jack-off jailors”. All of this sung over breezy and beautiful melodies punctuated by kick-arse solos, the kind Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks have built their name on.

Wig Out at Jagbags is the sound of a band comfortable with themselves and making exactly the kind of record they wanted to make. As Malkmus reminds us on ‘Chart Junk’: “Actually, I’m not contractually obliged to care”. Sometimes this kind of lyric might imply a ‘difficult’ record, yet Wig Out at Jagbags is perhaps The Jicks most accessible album to date. Here’s to the next 13 years.

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