Wowee Zowee



by looozer USER (6 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 229 replies

Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

The Musicians
Steven Malkmus Ė vocals, guitar
Spiral Stairs Ė guitar
Mark Ibold Ė bass
Steve West Ė drums
Robert Nastanovich Ė percussion

This is a really amazing album. People tend to either love it or hate it. It is rather experimental and exploratory as a whole, and covers a diverse variety of tonal territory. This is not your older brotherís Pavement. They abandon the more straightforward styles of Slanted/Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and instead add different flavors. There is little sense of an overall coherence, yet the album manages to flow solidly throughout most of its bizarre course. It is either a major breakthrough or maladaption from the band, depending on how one perceives it. Either way, it is a drastic stylistic departure from Pavement, as they focus more on melody (and amelody) than on raw energy.

We Dance
The album starts off with some piano chords and slow acoustic guitar. You have to be in the right mood for this one. Itís a pretty good song, but Steven Malkmusí cutesy vocals might be better left to the other tracks. ďNo one will dance with us in this zany townÖ maybe we can dance, together.Ē 4/5

Rattled by the Rush
This seems more like Pavement, and the song is more appropriate for Malkmusí vocal stylings. The main riff reminds me of ďDancing DaysĒ by Led Zeppelin, and the song steers off into a fuzz-laden chorus with lots of strange background noise. The track is really playful and textured. After another verse and a would-be chorus, thereís a really tight guitar solo. It starts off like a classic rock band, and disintegrates into atonality and beauty. This song is a classic. 4.5/5

Black Out
This is a pretty little song. It isnít particularly exciting or engaging, but the melody has that Pavement je ne sais quoi that one looks for in their albums. At this point, one figures that this album will be a departure from previous releases. The focus is still on melody, but it is not as aggressive as other Pavement titles. 4/5

Brinx Job
This is a sort of waste of a track in my opinion. There is gratuitous wah in the chorus. The percussion is interesting, but not the featured element in the song. It ends in a minute and 31 seconds without having done much of anything. 3/5

I might be one of the few people who donít really care for this song. It has a nice little guitar part in the beginning, and some soft, clean guitar in the verses. The chorus has some distorted guitar, straining as the note gets bent. This is a pretty little song, but thereís nothing really special about it. 4/5

Serpentine Pad
Some people have compared this to the Sex Pistols. Yeah right. The Pistols wouldnít know what to do with this much fuzz. Malkmusí lyricisms are kind of funny and whiny in this song, and Robert Nastanovich adds some whining above his singing. 4/5

Motion Suggests
This is a slow, organ-laden song with some bluesy guitar in the background. Organ? Pavement? Yes, they have decided to freely experiment with whatever instrumentation they please, and that includes more background sounds. 4/5

Father to a Sister of Thought
Did they lose their desire to rock? This song starts with soft, clean chords strummed on an electric guitar, and adds some country lead as the song progresses. Words donít really do it justice though. Itís an excellent song. Iím not a big fan of country music, but when a band can incorporate country-like elements into a song and make me appreciate it more than lots of other songs, they get points. It ends with distorted electric guitar that should be out of place, but still miraculously fits. 5/5

This song picks up with the previous one left off. It has some twangy lead during the verse, and it ascends into what might normally be a chorus. However, the band breaks it down, and the guitars chirp and wail. A tambourine sounds in the background, the song gets more normal, and it goes back into the verse before ending. 4.5/5

Best Friendís Arm
This is a rocky, upbeat song at the start. Steven screams some unintelligible lyrics above a balance of twangy and fuzzy guitars, fuzzy bass, and drums. Both guitars play some gratuitous solos, and the song slows to a crawl and the drummer switches up the beats a little. Thereís some more gratuitous soloing before the song ends. 4/5

Grave Architecture
The tempo is lazier, and so is Stevenís singing. One guitar plays a line that would fit on Slanted/Enchanted, and the other lazily noodles throughout most of the song. The song suddenly drops off at about the same time as the previous two end, and proceeds into a slightly hectic, more rocking section for half a minute before going back to a lazier section with some bizarrely atonal guitar playing. The song ends somewhere between the two poles that it explores. 4.5/5

Thereís nothing really amazing about this song, and the rocking chorus is rather stale. Steven gets a little abstract and weirder than normal with his lyrics, and it works in some parts of the song, but not in others. 3.5/5

This comes in with some fuzzy, wavering guitar at the intro, and eventually fades to mostly drumming during the verse. It has the capacity to be annoying, and the guitar break is mostly useless. However, itís pretty cool overall. 4/5

Fight this Generation
This features, of all things, violins. It begins posing as a sad and poetic song, but like the Pavement catalogue, it isnít. The guitar has some nice flanger on it or something, and is used in a quasi-percussive way, which is really cool. The lead guitar plays a slow line that descends toward the lower notes, and the song shifts gears. The rhythm guitar plays some strange chords, some sort of keyboard or organ flutters in the background, and the lead guitar hides in the background, playing mostly fuzz. The song breaks down and we get another gratuitous solo, featuring atonal, strangely distorted notes, then the song ends. 5/5

Kennel District
This is a favorite of mine. Itís just a run of the mill rock song by pretty much any standard. Thereís a basic distorted guitar riff with something that is either a guitar with weird effects on it or keyboard. Robert (at least I think itís him and not Steven) does some nice whistling that isnít quite on key in what would be the chorus. The song ends with the last chord ringing and a little whistle. 4/5

This one is a real let-down. It lazily meanders without purpose like the rest of the songs, but they have the endearing qualities that this lacks. 2.5/5

Half a Canyon
This starts out sounding like faux blues and noise. This is basically a noise jam. Itís heavier than some Pavement songs, but only because itís played at the lazy pace that most of this album moves at. At about 3 minutes, Steven lets out a digitally altered scream, and the song continues with the mostly the same guitar, bass, drums, and unintelligible/slightly audible screaming. The guitar flies toward sonic chaos for awhile, and then plays some bluesy/twangy lead until the somewhat abrupt end. 3.5/5

Western Homes
This is a strange little song. That keyboardy thing makes some bizarre noises, and Stevenís voice again enjoys some effects. The guitar plays a spacey line with lots of weird effects, the drum breaks down, and a strange noise that vaguely resembles feedback ends the song. 3.5/5

Overall: B+ 88/100 (4/5)
Some regard this album as essential or classic, and some loathe it. It mostly comes down to a preference of taste. If youíre willing to listen to a solid rock band explore the sonic unknown, this is the album for you. If you prefer lo-fi, straightforward indie rock, youíd be best served by listening to their earlier releases. If you prefer more relaxed albums, perhaps later Pavement is more your thing. Wowee Zowee has about every imaginable style blended into an aural smorgesboard. My main complaint is that there are some rather weak tracks on the album. As amazing as it is, or as powerful as it is, it would be better as a 14 or 15 track album, perhaps less. Removing some songs would give it a greater overall continuity and cohesion, and would make it more appealing overall. This album could very well be Pavementís masterpiece. However, it is not easily appreciated in the same ways as other classics. As good as it may be, it could be better. There are too many potential improvements that one could make for this to receive an A.

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user ratings (734)
other reviews of this album
Unitcircle (4.5)
A bizarre, unique amalgamation of everything that made Pavement so special....

ToxicBadger (4.5)

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 12th 2004


Great Review. Although you have to do 1/5 scale. Site policy

Two-Headed Boy
December 17th 2005


Album Rating: 4.0

it's just a great album. end of discussion.

Two-Headed Boy
December 17th 2005


Album Rating: 4.0

oh and this should be a featured album

May 30th 2006


"Grounded" is one of Pavement's finest songs. It has that slow, crushing despair similar to "Thumb" by Dinosaur Jr. Coincidentally, that song is also on an album which many say is came after the band's best work. May not be the best album, but still has some of their best individual songs.

August 26th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Man, this is one of the most underrated albums of the 90's. Grounded, Rattled By the Rush, Motion Suggests, and Half a Canyon are all brilliant songs. I also dig the one/two minute inderludes that are really noisy and raw. Although this may not be Pavements most consistant album it's an excellent balance of strong standout tracks and brief noisy tunes.

The Jungler
September 28th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

This is definetly not Pavement's best album, its great, but its far too long and doesn't really advance the sound as much as the first two did.

Flux=Rad reminds me so much of HORSE the band.This Message Edited On 09.28.06

February 26th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

A few factual problems with your review, it's Nast that "screams some unintelligible lyrics " in Best Friends Arm, and Spiral sings Serpentine Pad, Kennel District, and Western Homes.

Shadowed Reflection
April 6th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

I disagree with a lot of your ratings, notably AT&T. Best Pavement album, hands down. And you must be smoking some serious pot to give Pueblo a 2.5/5.

Your reviews was good, but I just disagreed with a lot of your points.This Message Edited On 05.12.07

April 8th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

No you sir must be smoking some serious weed to call this pavements best album.

Slanted is one of the greatest albums of all time, in my feeble opinion.This Message Edited On 04.08.08

Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2009


this grew off me a lot it's boring

October 28th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

yeah yeah i know s&e and crcr are classics and all but this is my favorite pavement album

October 28th 2009


Definitely the worst of their three most notable efforts but I wouldn't say it was boring.

Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2009


it's not boring it's just the first third of the album always makes me think that

it picks up with grave architecture

some of the beginning is good too like father to a sister of thought or w/e

October 28th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

yeah that song is ace

January 30th 2010


robertsona, please stop saying pavement aren't awesome. i dont say that to your favourite bands! just got into terror twilight on an obsessive level so ultimately completely engrossed in everything they've done.

Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2010


i dont know i just dont see the _BIG_ deal, theyre good though overall

January 30th 2010


i can see how that would hold true. maybe if you stopped picking after their reputation youd find them better than "good overall", though.

January 30th 2010


pavement ruled. malkmus solo material is also underrated

January 30th 2010


agreed, "post-paint boy" is as pavement as any pavement track. do want to review face the truth, actually. : )

Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2010


is "grounded" the best song ever? yes

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