Review: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Wig Out at Jagbags
Published on January 7th, 2014 | Jonny Abrams
Wig Out at Jagbags continues in a similar ‘prog-pop’ vein as previous Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks album Mirror Traffic, radiating sunny good vibes enough to affect climate change and settling ever more snugly into its sparsely populated niche.
The Jicks cater consummately for the more mathematical considerations that Malkmus likes to thread through the jangly sunset nostalgia that made him such a titan with Pavement, while the half-grinning rhyming schemes and wibbly guitar genius all remains present and correct.
“Planetary Motion” makes for a fine beginning, weaving in and out of sections that range from thumping to floaty without ever jettisoning the sense of warmth and benevolence that has always made Malkmus’s particular smart-arsery not just palatable but downright life-affirming.
This proclivity for tangents, explored to more patience-testing degrees on 2008’s Real Emotional Trash, is most becoming of him when each interlinking section is so gosh darn lovely in its own right – even the more consistent tracks, the lusciously brass-lined ‘n’ lounging “J Smoov” for example, are delicious enough to glaze pastries with.
“Rumble at the Rainbo” is playfully melodic gold, like something off Malkmus’s eponymous solo debut of 2001, and it says much for the man’s enduring, engaging inscrutability that he can title a song “Cinnamon and Lesbians”, sing within it “I’ve been tripping my face off since breakfast” and not make it all sound like one big joke.
For all its good nature, Wig Out at Jagbags does seem to pass by a little too seamlessly as it reaches its conclusion – fortunately, six-minute closer “Surreal Teenagers” goes some way towards redressing this balance by resuscitating the tangentialism of earlier.
It’s churlish to quibble, mind, when we really should just be grateful for a fresh consignment of magical Malkmusness. A splendid way to kick off 2014.
Wig Out at Jagbags is out now on Domino.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!