Andy Gill on albums: Pavement - Brighten the Corners Domino

Steve Malkmus & co have applied themselves with some conviction here- to make music this shabby and whiskery after four or five albums takes real dedication to the cause of lo-fi incompetence.

At their best, Pavement recall the sometimes engaging frailty of Welsh post-punk innocents The Young Marble Giants: methodical but cute, as on the short guitar piece "J vs S". And though there are decent song structures mapped out here and there, more usually it's as if somebody called in cowboy contractors to put them together. "Shady Lane" is typical of much of the album, with a bare-bones production that leaves guitar, bass and drums all nakedly exposed, while Malkmus's voice wrestles its way around the lyrics without too great a regard for the conventions of basic rhythmic emphasis. Stream- of-diction, perhaps.

The single "Stereo", with its rumination upon the ludicrous high voice of Rush singer Geddy Lee, is amusing enough, and the nightmarish prospect of "Date With IKEA" is redeemed by a nice barbiturate-Byrds guitar break, but the general mode, perhaps appropriately, is pedestrian.

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