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Spiral Stairs: The Real Feel

C-

Spiral Stairs

Album: The Real Feel
Label: Matador

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Even though it left an indelible mark on indie rock, Pavement was pretty unhip. It had no image and no angle, just smart, weird rock. Following deluxe reissues of Pavement’s catalogue, not to mention the recent reunion announcement, comes one more testament to Pavement’s low-key aura: Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg’s first true solo album. The Pavement member released two full-lengths with Preston School Of Industry earlier this decade, during a relative lull in Pavement-mania; both essentially defined “workmanlike,” and sadly, The Real Feel is no different. Smeared with slide guitar and minor-key droopiness, the opener “True Love” launches an exhausting excursion into impeccably played, emotionally tone-deaf rock product. Many glimpses of Kannberg’s catchiness and quirkiness are still available, but they’re a buried under a damp blanket of melancholy that seems forced and colorless. It doesn’t help that Kannberg sings like a sleepy, reedy David Lowery—only here, he resembles Lowery slipping into bad impersonations of Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. (The latter tendency is particularly ridiculous on the Bad Seeds-aping “Subiaco Shuffle.”) If this is the state of Pavement’s guitarist and sometime songwriter circa 2009, bring on the reunion.