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The Jicks: Youthful Exhuberance from 40-Year-Old Dudes

Posted by January 23rd, 2014 No Comments »

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks – Wig Out At Jagbags
Matador Records 

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks’s sixth album, Wig Out At Jagbags, is a playful jaunt and shows a refined whimsy in Malkmus’ songwriting. Longtime fans of Malkmus will likely find the variety on Wig Out At Jagbags to be a welcome change, especially since he seems relaxed for possibly the first time in his career.

Malkmus’ lyrics on “Houston Hades” alone range from drunken Beck genius to obviously unedited rambling but, luckily, they work more often than not. One track in particular, “J Smoove,” is devoid of the angular crunchiness with which Malkmus has become synonymous. “Cinnamon and Lesbians” begins with the line “Shanghaied in Orgeon” and continues, “I’ve been tripping my face off since breakfast, taking in this windswept afternoon.”

Though Wig Out At Jagbags is certainly from the perspective of a band resting on their laurels, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks aren’t lethargic by any means. The straightforwardness of “Lariat” exhibits a lack of pretense threaded throughout both Malkmus’ solo career and Pavement front man, singing “I wouldn’t jerry rig or candy-coat your Latin kisses.” This is just one of a handful of lines symbolizing Malkmus seemingly writing for himself. “We grew up listening to the music from the best decade ever,” Malkmus says in a sing-song tease.

Strangely enough, a band comprised of forty-year-old dudes put together one of the most youthful, exuberant albums in a long while. The unbalanced riffage on “Shibboleth” and “Surreal Teenagers” could have been ghostwritten by Ty Segall or Mikal Cronin. Arguably the best moment of self-awareness on Wig Out At Jagbags comes on “Rumble at the Rainbo” when he sings, “Come and join us, in this punk rock tomb/Come slam-dancing with some ancient dudes”.  While it won’t necessarily convert anyone to Makmusianism, Jagbags is a friendly reminder that Malkmus’ presence in the alternative rock world is strong, even when he’s just tooling around. – (7/10)

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks embark on a U.S. tour in February. They’ll hit our hometown Seattle on April 12 when the play The Neptune Theater


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