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Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks: Pig Lib


Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks

Album: Pig Lib
Label: Matador

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In a bit of dreary stage patter toward the end of Pavement's existence (later unconvincingly dismissed by guitarist Scott Kannberg as a misquotation), Stephen Malkmus once pointed to a pair of handcuffs on a microphone stand and said, "These symbolize what it's like being in a band." It must depend on the band, because he sounds joyously unfettered on Pig Lib, his second album post-Pavement and the first credited to Malkmus and The Jicks instead of as a solo record. The group members' credit is well-earned, too: They sound like they're wired to their leader's every peculiar notion. Not, to be fair, that Pavement ever slacked (in any sense but the philosophical), but on Pig Lib and its eponymous predecessor, Malkmus carries on like a bandleader who knows that his every dare will be met with a double dare. Another collection of twisty, allusive singalongs, Pig Lib finds room for the occasional jam-band guitar, a reference to Ben Folds' "Underground," and many points in between. Though often characteristically inscrutable–exactly why the oyster of "(Do Not Feed The) Oyster" should remain unfed is left unclear–the most lyrically lucid tracks offer more tales of the bohemian underworld, picking up where Stephen Malkmus' "Jenny And The Ess Dog" left off. A parade of Vanessas, for instance, find their way into "Vanessa From Queens," though the sexual confusion they create is nothing when compared to that of "Craw Song." The chaos occasionally bleeds into the music itself, but while Pig Lib may initially sound thornier than its immediately welcoming predecessor, it grows more inviting with each listen. "They sounded a bit like the Zephyr and a bit like The Jicks," a character comments on the epic "1 Percent Of One," but the album itself helps put that sort of confusion to bed. For as far as his influence stretches and for as many sources as he turns to, Malkmus and his band sound like nothing else out there right now. He might consider staying chained to this one for a while.