mon 25/03/2019

CD: Stephen Malkmus - Groove Denied | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Stephen Malkmus - Groove Denied

CD: Stephen Malkmus - Groove Denied

Wayward solo set hits the shops two years after its creator wanted it issued

Tread carefully: 'Groove Denied', the first real solo album from Stephen Malkmus

Groove Denied’s keeper is “Ocean of Revenge”, a drifting Syd Barrett-tinged contemplation with a structural circularity and edge setting it apart from the rest of what’s credited as the first solo album from Stephen Malkmus since 2001’s eponymous set. That, though, was an album he wanted co-billed to him and his band The Jicks. His label Matador had other ideas.

Plus ça change. The former Pavement man wanted Groove Denied issued in 2017 before the release of last year’s Sparkle Hard, a Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks album as such. The ten tracks out now are solo for real (despite being listed as by Malkmus/Jicks on iTunes), and were recorded between 2004 and 2017. Malkmus went to Matador with them in 2017 and was told they weren’t issuing them as an album at that point (Matador is his US label: it's Domino over here). Now, with a self-mythologizing cover and title, what was shelved can be heard.

“Ocean of Revenge” and the Lou Reed-esque album closer “Grown Nothing” aside, Groove Denied is defined by two approaches. There are frazzled, psychedelic-leaning, garage-rockers like “Rushing the Acid Frat”, a mash-up re-write of Les Yper-Sound’s “Psyché Rock” and Jean-Jacques Perrey’s “E.V.A.” These, especially “Come to me”, could be what the band Clinic might have come up with if they incorporated an overt second-album Velvet Underground sensibility and were also snarky US college rockers.

More interesting are the tracks operating in new territory, where Malkmus ditches guitars in favour of synths. The album opens with the burbling, bloop-filled, swooping “Belziger Faceplant”. The pulsing “Viktor Borgia” is as nutty, sounding as if the Mogadon-voiced Malkmus has put Cluster, “Spacelab” Kraftwerk and Stereolab in a blender. Best of all is “A Bit Wilder”, with its hints of Section 25’s early electronic outings.

A drawer-emptying hodgepodge then. But If approached prudently, Groove Denied has its moments. Tread carefully.

If approached prudently, 'Groove Denied' has its moments

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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