Stephen Malkmus reviews his solo albums — and doesn't always give himself two thumbs up

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Although Stephen Malkmus has been in the public eye for nearly two decades, he still doesn't quite have the whole self-promotion thing down. Ask his opinion of the albums he's made either under his own name or in combination with his current collaborators, the Jicks, since the breakup of Pavement, his best-known band, and he responds with either modest pride or faint praise.

Stephen Malkmus (2001): "In retrospect, it's kind of a jokey album," he says. "I'm not saying it was flimsy or anything, but there's some stuff that's not going to stand the test of time, probably.... I don't think it's particularly jaw-dropping."

Pig Lib (2003): "I certainly think that's an idiosyncratic and worthwhile record, sonically," he notes. "Some of the songs aren't fully developed in terms of the performance, but some of them are, in quite a good way. And it has sort of a classy sound that's not common by people in our genre.... So I think it's an interesting album. It's got a vibe."


Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Stephen Malkmus and the JicksWith Blitzen Trapper, 9 p.m. Thursday, November 6, Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway, $17.50, 303-830-8497.

Face the Truth (2005): "It's maybe more like the first album," he allows. "It had a lot of interesting, trashy sonic experiments. It's more of a garage-sounding record. I think it's got some good ideas. Maybe it's a little bit incohesive, but that's okay, too."

Real Emotional Trash (2008): "It's in that category of long, jammed-out songs. A bit more complex in a certain way. Other than that, I don't know what to say. I think it's good. It got good feedback from the intelligentsia and some of my friends. Maybe there's something there."

Obviously, Malkmus is long past the point where he feels the need to put on airs, if he ever did. Thanks to the musical tastes of Lottie, a toddler who's the older of his two daughters, he hears a lot of the Beatles' music around his Portland, Oregon, home these days. Yet he concedes that "I'm not really interested in writing the perfect boy-meets-girl pop song or something unless it's perfectly done. Because it's already been done perfectly. And I like fresh, weird imagery" — as in, for example, "Gardenia," a Real Emotional Trash cut that juxtaposes an Afrikaner candidate for mild reform and photographer Richard Avedon. "I guess I'm more interested in lyrical people, where you're invited into an original and odd mind at work."

His certainly qualifies — and in that context, he believes that even his self-titled solo debut passes muster. "If you're a fan of Pavement and me and the people in that band in particular, it's got a meaning," he says.

Whoa! Enough with the horn-blowing already. Who do you think you are — Kanye West?

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.