Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Real Emotional Trash Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Real Emotional Trash is his most consistently brilliant album to date.

Jonathan Raitt 2008

Chief flag-waver for the slacker mob Stephen Malkmus returns in fine fettle for his fourth solo album.

If you chart Malkmus's career in it's 19-year lo-fi entirety, it starts high on the Y axis (labelled 'brilliance!') for the first three Pavement albums: Slanted & Enchanted, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Wowie Zowie... Before dipping in to a bit of a trough for Terror Twlight and his eponymous debut. Commonly, this decline would continue for solo artists who leave legendary bands - but luckily Pig Lib began the revival, Face The Truth cut one mean peak and Real Emotional Trash gets him back close to his unique best. Seriously, it's that good.

Obviously the youthful abandonment which made those early albums so exciting isn't there. Instead, a more mature, measured and produced approach to chaos prevails creating something similar, despite being completely anti-Pavement.

The guitars still howl, screech, and blister. Songs still take their own paths, potholed by intricate scribbles of guitar, before they break-down, build and then break down once more.

This is the longest of his solo albums with six songs passing five minutes (and the title song passing 10). This space and freedom shows off what a great guitarist Malkmus is. Baltimore finds itself at the other end of six and a half minutes with hardly a word spoken, instead rammed with some pretty tasty guitar noodling. And straight from Baltimore we go to Gardenia; a three minute example of great pop writing.

The Jicks must take their credit for this album too (now with Janet Weiss formerly of Sleater-Kinney warming the drum stool). They sound like his band; pulling in the same direction as their unpredictable leader, and pulling against when necessary. It's this unity which gives rise to moments which could easily fit on a Pavement record - namely on Brighten The Corners and namely Out Of Reaches.

Pray this unity and creativity continues - because if this peak stays on the rise, who knows his fifth album could take us?

Real Emotional Trash is his most consistently brilliant album to date.

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