Slanted And Enchanted

Pavement

Matador Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/20/1999

There's a reason why so many critics gush over Pavement. You can praise their musicianship, you can awe at their Scrabble-defying vocabulary and you can certainly see their influence in college radio this decade. But their biggest claim to critics' hearts could be their punkish tendencies.

For years, book-smart, shy English majors had to listen to Toad The Wet Sprocket or 10,000 Maniacs to hear some of their inner turmoil turned into music. But those bands may not be able to reach a person's emotional depth if that person had their car die, got an F on their composition paper and had a fight with their signifigant other in one day. Yes, these people need to scream just as much as everyone else. And for them, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Slanted And Enchanted does plenty of that.

Song structure and tuned vocals are immediately discarded with the opening track, "Summer Babe (Winter Version)." Midway through the track, it seems that the drummer missed the beat almost 30 seconds ago while vocalist/guitarist Stephen Malkmus laughs out such abstract lyrics as "Minerals, ice deposits/ daily drop off the first shiny robe."

Just when the listener is about ready to scoff and say, "Shit, I can make a record that sounds hopelessly out of tune and sing off-key," Pavement nip you with bits of pure musical genius. The cool guitar riff of "Trigger Cut," rivals any riff that Boston ever released that you just can't get out of your head.

Another poppy ditty, "Two States," has a memorable chorus. (It's even harder to get this song out of my head because one of my favorite breweries, Free State Brewery out of Lawrence, Kansas, bears obvious close assimilation to the song title.) But for the most part, Slanted And Enchanted is an album in which the listener almost feels like they have to fit a certain set of qualifications to enjoy.

Sure, I like to be as well-read as the next guy. "Zurich Is Stained" is a decent song, but damned if I know what it's about. And I appreciate a band who is willing to take their audience on a wild musical adventure, but some of the ear piercing screams of Malkmus are sometimes downright annoying.

Trust me, it's far better for a band to try and challenge listeners to open their ears and minds a bit more. And Slanted And Enchanted keeps a repelled listener coming back more than a few times to try and figure out what all the critical fuss is over them. But far too many times, people are going to think that after listening to Slanted And Enchanted that they haven't attended nearly enough college classes.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1999 Sean McCarthy 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.