Pig Lib

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Matador Records, 2003


REVIEW BY: Adam Mico


Stephen Malkmus is a quirky little Californian snob who many detest. He looks like Tony Hawk and dresses like Generation-X fashion was still in vogue. In high school, he was likely the pimple-faced skateboarding loner who sat in the garage strumming a beached acoustic guitar.

In early adulthood, he was considered the 'indie darling' with a band called Pavement. They were supposed to be huge. In fact, the word that swelled from the underground was that they were the "next" Nirvana. For reasons unknown, Pavement just never commercially gelled. With persistence, they created great music for nearly a decade. However, the lack of mainstream success took its toll and started to show up in the sound, so they called it quits. Stephen decided to give solo a go.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Malkmus released his own playful and enjoyable self-titled album in 2001. He recorded with a collection of indie rock vets collectively known as the Jicks. The Jicks played as a largely uncredited session band that subsequently supported the righteously noncommittal Stephen on tour. In his 'solo' offering, the amateurish gadgetry was so frequently deployed that it definitely had the tone of…"Yes, I'm free, so what do I do next?" Naturally, next came the Jicks.

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks are Stephen Malkmus (guitar and vocals); Mike Clark (guitar, keyboards); Joanna Bolme (bass, background vocals) and John Moen (drums, background vocals). Their debut is Pig Lib. After the first listen, it's obvious that this is a band and not simply an ego project for the lead voice.

Discoveries as a band were made when genres like new wave ("Dark Wave"); progressive rock (the 9:00 epic "1% of One" and "Water and a Seat"); electronica ("Vanessa From Queens" and "Animal Midnight") and even funk ("Sheets") were explored to expand on Stephen's jangly brand of indie pop/rock. Although the vocals are excellent throughout, the ethereal stunners are "Ramp of Death" and "Witch Mountain Grave." Malkmus' lyrics are best described as droll Beck and are maximized to great comedic effect with his over-articulate inflection.

The Jicks are magic. Pig Lib may not immediately satisfy as a fling, but courts and haunts your psyche until you become completely intoxicated. This is the most consistent record that Malkmus has been involved with and it deserved a much better than #97 debut (and likely peak) in overall album sales. Those of us fortunate enough to be exposed, should feel privileged to be so rewarded. The general public can continue buying what marketing machines predetermine on radio's ever-repeating playlists, but you can feast on Pig Lib.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2003 Adam Mico 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 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.