Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Sunday, August 24; UMB Bank Pavilion

A goodly percentage of songs with respectable half-lives seem to have a way of pleasuring the listener while defying simple categorization. At the very least, they'll trick you into believing you've got 'em pegged. You'll be watching the right, then get knocked upside the head with a quick jab from the left. Just when you've got the bass line locked into your mental crosshair, the guitar scurries up the staff and steals your focus. In that single instant of distraction, the meter changes and you're left to wonder aloud, "GM Chrysler, what in the holy hell has just gone on? This was Nietzschean reggae a second ago, and now it has become a polkafied fig salad of boy-band and be-bop...what kind of twisted individual dreams up this shit? How are mere mortals to dance to these oddly pleasant sounds?" It's a bamboozling you probably needed to undergo, even if you're left a bit dizzy. At least you've still got your wallet.

Fortunately, there are varying degrees of smacking-upside-the-head. Fans of the now-disbanded Pavement know all too well that the group's frontman, Stephen Malkmus, always had a talent for cradling while he cajoled -- sort of a stony satyr playing gentle hob with your noggin while entertaining himself to no end. The material that he's playing with his current band, the Jicks, is a sweet madeleine of Pavement's preferable attributes, with all the hard angles buffed down to breathy puffs of calculated texture and groovy oh-yeah-baby. Lyrically the songs are Malkmus' own private little jokes, but it's difficult to take offense when the colorful smoke he's blowing up your ass smells so dreamy. And as in any good dream, there's no telling what'll happen next. Therein lies the soft Dutch rub you so desperately need.

 
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