A stranger to pigeonholes, former Pavement
frontman Stephen Malkmus
is one of alt-rock's indubitable curiosities. Although billed as a strictly solo project in some quarters, his third post-Pavement album, Face The Truth
features cameo appearances from members of his more recent sidekicks The Jicks and perseveres with Malkmus' headspinning DIY quest to reconcile popular music's many subcultural stylistic contradictions. While a straighter mythological hand is at play on the childhood domestics of "Mama" (evidently inspired by the Beatles' Ballad Of John And Yoko, the radio soundtrack to Malkmus' rockinghorse years) and the post-punk glam of "Baby C'mon", there's nothing else to suggest Malkmus is about to surrender his propensity for bewilderment. Ironic sci-fi disco, violently red King Crimson-ite prog guitar, drone-rock Simon And Garfunkel and what Jonathan Richman would probably have called "Egyptian Reggae" are all soupcon of the day and the lyrics - there's no use pretending "Freeze The Saints" is about cryogenic beatification seeing as it sounds like a cowboy wagon song - remain enigmatically recondite. Some say Malkmus is the indie Zappa but here's to calling him American rock's ultimate left-field policy wonk .Face The Truth
"? If only things were that straightforward. --Kevin Maidment
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