While history states that Pavement broke up in 1999, the band's fans would place the official termination date some time between 2001's Stephen Malkmus and 2003's Pig Lib. Those two albums were the first solo records from ex-Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, and while the former felt in many ways like a sonic continuation of his old outfit, the latter announced that he was going to wander his own shady lane. Impatient supporters who couldn't adjust jumped ship, depriving themselves of enjoying the intriguing transformation of a skateboarding smart-ass into a fortysomething artist who has never come close to repeating his early success because he's too busy trying to find some new ones.
Real Emotional Trash, his fourth solo disc, is arguably the least Pavement-y of his post-Stephen Malkmus career, and the least accessible too. But, with enough time, it might be the best of the trilogy, which has Malkmus rambling between twisty guitar epics and elegiac folk ballads. Trash is almost all guitar epics, their pleasures derived from their graceful transitions from trippy verses into stretched-out solos. With six of its 10 songs longer than five minutes and nothing close to resembling a focus track, this won't win back the aging Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain crowds, who are probably too busy worrying about their 401(k)s anyway. But from the bittersweet sigh of "Out of Reaches" to the exciting sprawl of the 10-minute title track, Trash has treasure all over it.
Tim Grierson writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].
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