"Malkmus, Malkmus, Malkmus
!" we might mutter in frustration like an indie-rocking Jan Brady or John Malkovich. We've seen the glory the former leader of Pavement is capable of and can't argue with the fact that he and his low-fidelity slacker cohorts have influenced modern-day indie music more than any other band (except maybe the Pixies). But we've also noticed that his two solo records, 2001's Stephen Malkmus
and 2003's Pig Lib
, lack the melodic sting that Pavement's sucker punch used to deliver. Why? Well, perhaps for the same reason anything any of the Beatles did post the Beatles was lackluster, too: It was only one-quarter of a complicated equation in which the sum was way
greater than what it should have been, mathematically speaking, of course.
Still, as musically drab in comparison as his solo material is, you have to love Malkmus' gift for penning lyrics that twist the mundane into something fantastic and the fantastic into something mundane. The cartoonish world he sketches is inhabited by, among other subjects, Yul Brynner, pirate kidnappers, and some girl named Vanessa who we're told is from Queens. "Do not feed the oyster under a cloud/ He'll suck you like a sea gull into the sound," Malkmus sings on Pig Lib's "(Do Not Feed the) Oyster," and suddenly we're afraid of diabolical mollusks. So even though the melodies are a bore, the instrumental interludes long-winded, and the hooks not plentiful enough, this might be as close to the splendor of Pavement as we're ever going to get.