Stephen Malkmus
Real Emotional Trash


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kiran EMERITUS
February 5th, 2010 | 9 replies | 6,997 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Malkmus hasn't missed a beat.

When seminal indie rock group Pavement imploded in 1999, the hearts of their young, ever-devoted fans opened up like the tears in their jeans and the holes in their socks. Y2K came, with these very same heartbroken teenagers clutching their Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain vinyls in the fearful claustrophobia of their makeshift basement bomb shelters, and eventually it passed without so much as a stir. The new decade was upon them and with it a terrifying question loomed like a cartoon anvil over their checkered shirt torsos; a new decade without Pavement?

Nobody knew what to do with themselves anymore. Sonic Youth have a new album, they shouted hastily, to which the rest of them laughed with a tragic, knowing whimper. They’d already heard “Renegade Princess”. These were dark times and just as they began to breathe out a collective, hope-drained sigh, a silhouette appeared out of the floating haze, and from his mouth came the familiar lazy Sunday drawl that these starry eyed kids would have recognized anywhere. Stephen Malkmus had returned for them.

7 years, 3 albums and a backing band (the ever-solid Jicks) later, Real Emotional Trash marks the continuing solo prosperity of the former Pavement figurehead and he’s not lost any of that stoner charm. Like the best of his ‘90s exploits, he continues to write songs that play with an intuitive edge and unlike those glory days, there’s no one in the mix but him and accordingly, Malkmus lets every whim and idea gush out, brushing aside restraint like an unwanted companion. Real Emotional Trash is indulgent and scattershot and brilliant in a way only he could conjure.

The record feels like the clumsy mix of fifty-percent jam band, fifty-percent Pavement, and fifty-percent effortless, stoner meandering, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t an album and a half. “Willie was found not far from the scene / He was panting like a pitbull / minus the mean”, Malkmus sings as the 7-minute, slacker anthem “Hopscotch Willie” comes to its end, signifying the logical next step in his solo career; an evolution from the four-minute easygoing ditty to the fleshed out six, seven, and ten minute jams. Title track “Real Emotional Trash” is the quintessential example of that: a ten-minute aimless foray into abstract lyrics (“Down in Sausalito / We had clams for dessert”) and drum rolls and in the end it feels wonderfully homey, like the appeal of a ragged old armchair.

That’s the real driving force behind it all, Malkmus sounds like an old friend and one that you welcome back with a sloppy grin. This rambling old troubadour is still, 20 years since his introduction, simply irresistible.



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user ratings (57)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Kiran
Emeritus
February 5th 2010



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wanted to do a quick write up of this after realizing that it didn't even have a review yet

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

jagride
February 5th 2010



2285 Comments


Really good album, probably his best since Pavement's split

Kiran
Emeritus
February 5th 2010



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yep, definitely my favourite, followed by his self-titled

robin
Emeritus
February 5th 2010



4247 Comments


awesome review dude. i might do face the truth which i think is his best

AggravatedYeti
February 5th 2010



7684 Comments


this is one of those albums I've been meaning to get forever

Kiran
Emeritus
February 5th 2010



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

stop dillydallying and get it, yeti

thanks robin and you should definitely, thats the only 1 of the 4 i havent heard actually

plane
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010



6092 Comments


I had this and reviewed it but it grew off, maybe I will try again.

Kiran
Emeritus
February 5th 2010



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ah, i was wondering how this couldve gone so long without a review. i'm sort of a pavement fan boy so my opinion on it may be slightly swayed but you should definitely give it another go. more of a summer/spring album though.

porch
August 28th 2010



8453 Comments


this is still cool

review describes the sound well too



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