Review Summary: You've been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequel to your life
I have recently reached a stage in my academic life in which the words I put in my essay have to do more than simply be there. They have to work within a scheme and actually sound good
. I don’t know if you have ever had a similar experience, but it has drained any spark of creativity I once had. That is probably why I have returned to my latest favourite record, Brighten The Corners
, for the umpteenth time – for the pure escapism of it.
Argument goes back and forth amongst fans both casual and diehard as to whether Malkmus and co. are ever trying to say anything at all, be it in ’92 or ‘97. To me, it’s often just a case of overkill, which is actually not the worst thing to happen: the band will cram hundreds of tiny sentiments into one song and flood it with meaning, as with “Gold Soundz”, “Here”, “Elevate Me Later” and so many of their seminal hits. By their fourth, however, there seems to be a standard in their words. Malkmus appears as a reluctant aging man, resigned to the mind-numbing boredom of the adult world he personally goes by. It may sound dull and tired and whatever, but who better to write an album about maturity than Pavement? Lyrically, Brighten The Corners
is the same surreal, but reflecting on the not so surreal. The band, supposedly all grown up, continue to let no thought go lightly. Just take “We Are Underused”:
“Out beyond the call of duty -
hold your instincts hostage and stick near me
Let's drink a toast -- it's the most I can stand to cry about
The mental energy you wasted on this wedding invitation
Let's thank the host -- you've been such a great host
The roast was just so perfectly prepared”
What could literally say “boredom” says much, much more. Here, Malkmus finds himself out of the position to which rock ‘n’ roll should have elected him, and maybe he’s just a little pissed off at the middle-class turf he’s had forced on him instead. The apathy of achievement shows: the song meanders about in a typical laze and has as little intention as his newfound lifestyle does. In itself, the song is actually only in case you missed the point the first time round; he’s already struck the point over our perplexed little heads two songs in with “Shady Lane” (the album’s crowning single) with a quirk so Pavement any fan can dissect the language and translate it into simple English: You’ve been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequel to your life
. And again in “Transport Is Arranged” and “Old To Begin” and “Type Slowly”. The band finally has a lyrical constant, and that in itself spells maturity.
In a way, it’s infuriating that this is the only way to categorise Brighten The Corners
. Pavement can’t simply be explained away in verse or sound - some may simply forever slander them lazy when they should be praising them seamless – they have a quality that makes everything they touch seem so easy and to one side, as if anyone could have come up with a summertime tune as blissful as “Date With Ikea” when all Pavement had to do was brush against their instruments. As the album reaches its explosive climaxes, the band still seem ready to be emulated, but it’s still
not as if anyone could inject “Stereo” with as much silliness, and nor could they rip those chords out of thin air as Pavement gracefully decide they might just do, two minutes into the slow and steady – and seemingly dead - “Embassy Row”.
Pavement will remain decisive to the Indie world they helped pave the way for with albums filled with summer, irony, statement, etc etc, but they may never be remembered for enduring getting older. Brighten The Corners
says it might just be the best thing they’ll ever do.