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!

Related News

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Share 'Sparkle Hard' Documentary
Wed 09 May 2018
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks have shared a documentary for 'Sparkle Hard'.
Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks Share New Song Refute Featuring Kim Gordon
Wed 25 Apr 2018
Photo: James Rexroad Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks have shared a new song.
Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks Announce New Album 'Sparkle Hard', Confirm UK And Ireland Tour
Mon 26 Mar 2018
Photo: James Rexroad Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks have announced a new album.
Imagination Is Key: How The Sheepdogs Are Keeping Rock 'N' Roll Colourful
Wed 31 Oct 2018
It’s virtually impossible to do anything completely new in the realm of rock'n'roll, especially when some of the greatest acts of all time have already pioneered, innovated and explored the genre to its very limits and beyond. Does that mean like-minded young bands should just lazily imitate their predecessors or even give up? Hell, no. They need to follow the example set by the Sheepdogs, write the best songs possible and spice them up with as many stylistic and instrumental flavours as their talents will allow.
Super Furry Animals To Release Yeti Fur Filled Box Set Version Of BBC Sessions Compilation
Thu 11 Oct 2018
Yes, you read that right. Clippings of fur from the Yeti outfits worn by Super Furry Animals for their 2003 hit, Golden Retriever, have been embedded into vinyl records, forming super limited versions of their forthcoming BBC sessions compilation.
Swearin' - Fall Into The Sun (Album Review)
Thu 01 Nov 2018
Space can be good, whether it’s allowing us to take a break from people or helping intrigue to blossom in the moments left unfilled in a piece of music. Left to our own devices, we are able to take stock, gain perspective and ultimately grow. It feels like Swearin’, who split in 2015 when guitarists and vocalists Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride ended their romantic and musical relationship, would back that sentiment.
Richard Ashcroft - Natural Rebel (Album Review)
Mon 22 Oct 2018
Photo: Robin Pope Here’s a thing. Do you remember when Rod Stewart was cool? Probably not. It’s been over 40 years since Faces, the original lad-rockers, split. Perhaps you remember when Sting was cool instead, then? But once the Police went the same way as Stewart’s mob, their frontman launched a similarly disappointing solo career.
AFI Return With New Track Get Dark
Fri 26 Oct 2018
AFI have released a new single.
< Prev   Next >