When Pavement officially called it quits last fall after an illustrious decade-long career, thousands of lo-fi indie fans across the world held their breath. Sure, there certainly were other purveyors of satisfying slacker rock, but none quite as fun and unique as the boys who started out in a garage in Stockton. Thankfully, Stephen Malkmus, lead singer/songwriter and main genius behind the band, has ventured out on his own with results that are far more listenable than other former frontmen’s solo albums.
Stephen Malkmus isn’t really different from any Pavement album. We have the same atonal experiments, insatiably catchy melodies, silly rhymes and chirpy guitars that trademarked its sound. The album picks up musically where Pavement’s last album, Terror Twilight, left off, concentrating on guitar exuberance and quirky melodies while foregoing anything terribly experimental. While it is a satisfying listen, the sound might be too clean and conservatively mellow for some Slanted and Enchanted Pavement fans.
Not a fan of being emotionally transparent with its lyrics, Stephen Malkmus listens as a series of unconnected character vignettes and armchair traveler fantasies. On “The Hook,” Malkmus celebrates sailing the Mediterranean with Arab pirates, and on “Pink India,” he’s determined to be a man as he hops around Asia.
Malkmus’ guitar work on the album is intricate and beautiful – no one sounds quite like him. Further exploring his amazing knack for intoxicating melody, Malkmus proves that Pavement or not, he’s way too talented to be ignored on his own.