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Stephen Malkmus 

Face the Truth (Matador)

Take heart, all you Pavement worshippers surveying the current reunion landscape and hoping against hope that your cherished indie-rockers will stage a comeback: Face the Truth -- the third solo album by Stephen Malkmus (with occasional contributions from his backing band, the Jicks) -- is his first to truly do justice to the formidable legacy of the band he used to front. You might not think so from the analog synth-sputtering of lead track "Pencil Rot" (which initially suggests a concession to the nü-wave zeitgeist), or even the brusque electronic grunge-stewing of third track "I've Hardly Been." But sandwiched between the two is the warm Laurel Canyon jamble "It Kills," and even more satisfying is "Freeze the Saints," which bursts with a sumptuous piano melody and a loping, countrified sweetness that mirrors Pavement's classic "Range Life." Tasty eight-minute guitar trek "No More Shoes" contains more squiggly noodles than a Barilla factory, while the cosmic near-funk of "Kindling for the Master" works far better than that description would suggest. A few more albums like this, and Pavement fans will be happy to let go of the past.

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