Wowee Zowee

Pavement

Matador, 1995

REVIEW BY: David Welsh

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/19/2003

Wowee Zowee, Pavement's fourth album, arrived in 1995, a very interesting time for the band. Having built a cult following on the back of full-length debut Slanted and Enchanted, and even enjoyed some relative mainstream success with hook-heavy Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, the band with Wowee Zowee presented perhaps its most artistically significant offering. The album refuses to sit into one category, and its often beautiful experimentation characterized Pavement's intention to remain as far from the mainstream as they could. Indeed, Wowee Zowee is perhaps not noted as Pavement's best because it cost them their growing trendy following, who, more often than not, latched onto the band following my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain's insanely catchy single "Cut Your Hair."

It is no surprise, then, that Wowee Zowee is starkly unique figure in the Pavement back-catalogue, offering up slightly more with every repeat listen. The lyrics are typically obscure but often poignant, and delivered in the motioning, careering manner that only Malkmus can offer. Pavement retain their distinctive style of sporadic guitar held together by an understated rhythm section. The band jumps to and fro among styles throughout the album,with delicate, downcast "Grounded" typically followed by a frantic "Serpentine Pad," which is as heavy as the band had ever been.

"Father To A Sister Of Thought" stands out as the album's greatest moment, and, as such, was one of the few singles to emerge from Pavement in the Wowee Zowee era. As a psuedo-country styling, its slide guitar warbling combines with Malkmus' profound wordings to invoke images of cowboys with tears. "Grave Architecture" shows Pavement at their lazy best whilst remaining to sound playful (and strangely Hawaiian in parts), "AT&T"'s colourful and peculiar lyrics remind of a One Foot In The Grave-era Beck and "Flux = Rad" reminds us that Pavement could be both driving and erratic, and were, as such, a favorite band of one Kurt Cobain.

Wowee Zowee is understandably cited as Pavement's experimental album, relaying between the fierce and the fragile. It is perhaps the most rewarding of all their albums, refusing to give up certain aural treats and subtleties until a third or fourth listen. It has aged better than many albums of its era, and retains and unerring sense of presence (especially aptly titled "Fight This Generation"). Its sound is more refined than earlier releases and earthier than anything that followed. It doesn't best showcase Pavement's ability to be catchy and fun, but it does paint the picture of their remarkable chemistry as a band. It sits perfectly in an record collection, and is justly regarded as a masterpiece by all true Pavement fans

Rating: A

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© 2003 David Welsh and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Matador, and is used for informational purposes only.