6 of 6 thought this review was well written
Before they became the band of the nineties that you didn't know but if you did know them then you were considered cool, Pavement started out in a familiar background to bands - they were a garage band with little more than an eight-track demo tape of them screwing around in the basement and an unusually ambitious forte in songwriting. Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Stephen Malkmus, assistant front man Scott Krannberg and hippie drummer/druggie/producer/forty-something lowlife Gary Young on drums.
Pavement were mainly the brain child of Stephen, who had coddled up many influences from the eighties post-punk regime, early Indie rock bands and even the hardcore punk scene that was brewing in the eighties. The songwriting that took place in Pavement's early days were reminiscent of all of these kinds of music, and most of the time all at once. Yes, the boys of Pavement were an aqcuired taste to say the least. After passing around a few self-released/Drag-City EPs (all of which are collected on this CD), Pavement made the jump to the major (sort of) label Matador, an Indie label based in New York. They quickly cut the classic album Slanted and Enchanted
, which compiled all their sounds so far and meshed them into a full length killer.
However, after all the fuss (and 100,000 copies sold of Slanted), Pavement stayed true to their roots and re-released their early EPs on this album. While not a stranger to experiments and free spirited, loose-limbed noise jams, the boys became focused on writing complete songs for the most part. Whether they reach little more than 1:30 long or stretch on to...well, 2:30, it seems that length doesn't matter for these guys. For the most part this album is short, sweet and to the point. This serves as a good point and a bad point - Pavement are capable of amazing music, there's no doubt about that, but when they slack off from actual songwriting it's almost brutal to listen to for any amount of time. Thus the reason this album deserves a three - some songs just completely suck. The most notable reason they aren't that great is because little or no thought went into them, and it's annoying to figure that if more thought had been put into them then they could really be fantastic songs. Whether they be noisy noise jams that don't go anywhere anytime, or short out of key little nuggets that even Pavement's mom couldn't enjoy. It's unfortunate, because Pavement are not only a great song band, but eventually they became a great noise band too.
This album also hints of things to come in terms of songwriting. For the most part, Pavement have dedicated songs about nothing inparticular, and it's an extremely easy and satisfying listen if you get past the primitive production. Whether they be slow, mourning and sometimes amazingly playful ballad type songs or art rock songs in the highest order, Pavement's variety shines brightly on this album. Over the course of 23 songs, we breeze through songs that latch onto your memory either for the fantastic songwriting or even the simplistic rock feel that can come across. Needless to say, these EPs are important to the listener because for the most part they shaped Pavement's sound. Without them, Pavement wouldn't be as adventerous or explorative as they were in the nineties. So it's definitely nice to hear songs that shaped their future, as well as embraced the past. The best songs on the album are, however, the short, well thought out and occasioanlly confusing songs that somewhat resemble a ballad but come out sounding more like an onstage chaos breaking through. Simple as that, though that's alot.
Overall, this CD is a must for Pavement fans, especially those looking into the history of the band's sound and the inspirations for the future. But this is definitely not the place to start with Pavement. Patience testing at times, horrible at others but for the most part inspiring and inspired, this album has it's ups and downs to say the least. However, for my final opinion on this album, I'd say that it's mostly important for historical significance. However, if you like Pavement at all, then this is a good purchase but may the buyer beware, because at times it just completely bores you or annoys you.