Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, gig review: 'sloppy and unfulfilling'
Friday 17 January 2014
They don't play 2011's “Senator”. Really? Why? What's the reasoning? It's one of their punchiest songs, and it possesses the deliciously scabrous lyric “I know what the senator wants/ What the senator wants is a blow job“. But then, in the main, this experience is 75-minutes' worth of mild disappointment. I would have shaved half an eyebrow off to hear Pavement's ”Shady Lane“ or ”Cut Your Hair“. However, the languid Stephen Malkmus doesn't indulge us with material from his former, far better lo-fi, slacker band.
The gangly, cerebral frontman is, by all accounts, in a perkier place than his Pavement days (he infamously disbanded the seminal outfit at an after-show party in Brixton) and looks content orchestrating his Jicks, which consist of Joanna Bolme on bass, Jake Morris on drums and Mike Clarke on keyboards. They've been playing together since 2000 - far longer than Pavement lasted - and now have six albums under their belt (Pavement had five), but they still sound like an eternal American college band. A vital ingredient is missing. Pavement, on the other hand, were more than the sum of their parts and it was thrilling to witness them reunite in 2010.
Malkmus, who bears a passing resemblance to John Squire with his floppy fringe, is still a nimble and acerbic lyricist. ”Come ye all down to the punk rock tomb/ Come slam dancing with some ancient dudes,“ the 47-year-old archly maintains on ”Rumble at the Rainbo. “I can see/ The mystery/ Of you and me/ Will never quite add up/ No one is/ Your perfect fit,” he laments on the arsenic-laced “Forever 28”, from 2011's polished Mirror Traffic (produced by Beck).
The Californian's lyrics remain consistently inventive and droll but they also stray into wilful absurdity: “I got no more lotion/ Chew the oddity”, he maintains on “Planetary Motion” from his new record, Wig Out at Jagbags. Malkmus's voice has never been a thing of beauty but it feels particularly drowned out tonight among the unhelpful noodling and unfortunate nods toward prog-rock. Thankfully, his guitar playing is extremely accomplished, particularly on the plodding new number “J Smoov” and the witty “Cinnamon and Lesbians” (“Come downtown 'cause we got a cure for your head lice/ We will it for free/ Love it or leave”).
But whereas Pavement felt sloppily brilliant, this just feels sloppy, unfulfilling, perfunctory. The sound of their compelling new album doesn't seem to translate or compel tonight and the band's mutterings between songs is largely inaudible. It's the last night of their UK tour, so perhaps they're fatigued.
The two high points are the enchanting opener “Lariat”, from the new record, and the anthemic, effervescent “Jo Jo's Jacket” from Malkmus's debut solo album. But, ultimately, Malkmus and the Jick's performance feels somewhat pedestrian, it stagnates. It doesn't ebb, it doesn't flow. It never ignites. And then it's over far too soon. It's probably time to unite Pavement again.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 2 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove