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Friday, June 23, 2006 

It's all right to shake, to fight, to feel



If you want to hear "warm, considered humanity," you could do a lot worse than to go back and take another listen to Terror Twilight. From "Spit On A Stranger" to "relationships, hey hey hey" to "Ann Don't Cry" to Malkmus' Palestinian nephew in "The Hexx" to "Carrot Rope" - the least wiseass, and perversely enough, funniest album they ever made, as well as their bid for indie classic rock status (seriously, listen to the end of "Cream Of Gold" again). I sort of go back and forth between it and the chillier (somehow Nigel Godrich manages not to turn Terror Twilight in audio Ikea), more oblique Brighten The Corners as my favourite Pavement LP. The early ones and good and justly lionized, and I'll never quite convince myself to get rid of the sloppy-but-wonderful Wowee Zowee, but only their later day stuff really gets played around these parts.

I wonder if Malkmus sticks around long enough, maybe he'll eventually turn into (or finish turning into, or even just be recognized as) a Hilarious Jewish Asshole (NB. No, I haven't the faintest if Malkmus is actually Jewish)?

Not listened to Terror Twilight in ages, but you might just have convinced me to dig it out. For a good while after its release it was my favourite Pavement album. Now I think that would have to be Brighten The Corners (thanks in no small part to you mentioning it on here a while back and inspiring me to dig THAT one out again too...), but Terror Twilight is still a wonderful (and underrated) album. Am I right in saying it gets a bad rap from most Pavement fans because it's more of a Malkmus solo album than a group effort?

I think it may, which is kind of a shame because Terror Twilight is also better than Malkmus' solo records to date (although his first comes close); no offense to the Jicks, but by the this time, Pavement were surprisingly tight. One thing I noticed that I've ever even thought of before while going through a bunch of old Pavement videos (which is what prompted this post) is how good a rhythm section Steve West and especially Mark Ibold are. And well conventional wisdom now accepts Malkmus as a shit-hot guitarist, he probably worked best feeding off of Scott Kannberg (and vice versa). Having Bob Nastanovich around to do whatever else was needed is surprisingly crucial too, I think - look at the ways Mogwai's sound expanded once they added Barry Burns as a utility player.

Point is, they were one of those great bands who, at least by the time they were done, were far more than the sum of their parts. So while TT is definitely perceived (by myself sometimes too) as a Malkmus solo jam - no Kannberg songs, a definite shift in tone - it's still being made by Pavement, and I really do think that makes the difference.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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