Home > News & Reviews > Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Sparkle Hard (Album Review)

Tuesday, 12 June 2018 Written by Ben Gallivan

Photo: James Rexroad

For people of a certain age, Stephen Malkmus will always be a rarefied genius. Along with Messrs Kannberg, Young, Ibold, West and Nastanovich he soundtracked the ‘90s with Pavement, and he has been trading in a pretty fine line of off-kilter slacker rock ever since.

After the initial demise of Pavement at the turn of the (slow) century, Malkmus didn’t hang about. A self-titled LP was released in 2001, and what a joy it was. While similar in style to what had gone before (his drawl is quite difficult to mask) it did lean towards poppier arrangements (especially Jo Jo’s Jacket) and was well received.

Along with his Silver Jews project, Malkmus has been steadily releasing new music with the Jicks ever since. ‘Sparkle Hard’ is their seventh record, and it’s really rather good. It starts wonderfully with Cast Off, which boasts a pretty piano riff akin to the opening of Pavement’s misunderstood masterpiece ‘Wowee Zowee’.

However, unlike We Dance, which meanders along at a steady pace, this erupts into a delicious world of fuzz and majestic drums in time for the chorus. So far, so brilliant, and we’re less than three minutes in.

There’s a certain softness to Malkmus’s voice on ‘Sparkle Hard’ and he gives singing the old college try on Future Suite, which culminates in a bit of Futureheads-esque vocal styling.

Solid Silk then switches from lounge to modern classical to Krautrock with minimum effort and maximum effect, while Bike Lane sends things bubbling over. Malkmus has taken on the guise of mid-70s David Bowie in both instrumentation and vocal delivery, and despite how much the lyrical juxtaposition may confuse (designated bicycle lane/police brutality), a superb post chorus wig-out and stomping rhythm is the main takeaway.

Middle America revisits Range Life 25 years on and we’ll just leave it there in the middle of the record to do its thing. It’s fine, but the second half of ‘Sparkle Hard’ is, to use a single word, amazing. Rattler sees Malkmus experimenting with voice manipulation, while Shiggy is home to unholy amounts of fuzz guitar. It’s all delivered with the intensity and joy of someone half his 50-or-so years.

Despite the Pavement spectre, this is a record that is very much of the moment. That might be because Malkmus’s old band were aeons ahead of their time, but it also shows that he is keeping ahead of the curve and churning out tunes that are consistently head and shoulders above many of his contemporaries. ‘Sparkle Hard’ is a great record, go get it.

Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Wed October 17 2018 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Thu October 18 2018 - GLASGOW SWG3 TV Studio
Fri October 19 2018 - DUBLIN Vicar Street
Sun October 21 2018 - BRISTOL SWX Bristol
Mon October 22 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Asylum, Hockley
Wed October 24 2018 - LONDON Hackney Arts Centre
Thu October 25 2018 - BRIGHTON Concorde 2

Click here to compare & buy Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks Tickets at Stereoboard.com.





Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!




You May Also Like:

Beginning, Middle and End: Ash's Tim Wheeler On Crafting 'Islands'
Tue 14 Aug 2018
Once we had survived a punishing winter that would have made even your average White Walker cling to their hot water bottle, it came time to talk ‘soundtrack to the summer’. As ever, the conversation pretty much started and finished with Ash. Possessing a typically enchanting feelgood factor that belied the heartache at its core, the Northern Irish trio’s new album ‘Islands’ was tailor made to accompany bright blue skies and long lazy days topping up your tan.
Santigold - 'I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions' (Album Review)
Tue 14 Aug 2018
With dancehall continuing to enjoy an influential spot in the mainstream Santigold has combined with Mixpak label owner Dre Skull on 'I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions', a mixtape that finds her dipping into fresh waters.
Slaves - Acts of Fear and Love (Album Review)
Tue 21 Aug 2018
Whether it’s because they’ve pricked the ears of primetime Radio 1 DJs, or because they’ve signed to one of the biggest record labels in the world, or because their songs spout trite counterculture messages, the likes of which any 16-year-old has already heard too many times, Slaves always come across as punk-lite. It’s been said that they’re punk for those who don’t really know what punk is, and their new record, ‘Acts of Fear and Love’, proves that maxim still rings true.
Interpol - Marauder (Album Review)
Tue 04 Sep 2018
Photo: Jamie-James Medina Having dispensed with the anagrams following the release of the excellent ‘El Pintor’ four years ago, Interpol’s sixth album ‘Marauder’ is the subject of a production shift. Not since 2007’s ‘Our Love To Admire’ have they employed an outside producer, so it’s somewhat surprising to find Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips) at the helm here.
White Denim - Performance (Album Review)
Wed 29 Aug 2018
Photo: Pooneh Ghana The late summer bank holiday is gone and the leaves are beginning to brown. It’s a time for reflection and calmness before we drag ourselves into the long autumnal evening.
Miles Kane - Coup de Grace (Album Review)
Wed 15 Aug 2018
No matter how much Miles Kane might like to think of himself as a solo act, the fact remains that he’s always struggled to emerge from the shadows of his more revered pals. He’s scored two number one albums with The Last Shadow Puppets, but those have to be viewed in the context of Alex Turner’s contributions. Of his own material, how much do you remember aside from a couple of chanty singalongs?
Elle King Confirms Details Of Second Album 'Shake The Spirit', Shares New Track Good Thing Gone
Fri 07 Sep 2018
Elle King has shared the details of her sophomore LP. 
Richard Ashcroft Announces New Album 'Natural Rebel' And Autumn UK Tour
Wed 15 Aug 2018
Richard Ashcroft has announced a new solo album and UK tour.
 
< Prev   Next >