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I could write a novel on how influential Stephen Malkmus’s music is. I first fell in love with Malkmus’s eccentric lyrics and innovative style when I discovered Pavement’s ‘Slanted & Enchanted’ (which is now one of my favorite albums). I’m not sure if he’ll ever put out something as ingenious as his albums with Pavement, but ‘Wig Out at Jagbags’ is a solid record that will appeal to both die-hard Pavement fans (guilty as charged) and newcomers alike.

At times the album is punchy and frank, at others humorous and tongue-in-cheek, and sometimes just plain bizarre. (One of the songs is called Cinnamon and Lesbians, for God’s sake). But it’s no throwaway; in terms of songwriting, it’s excellent, and consistently deliberate.

To me, the best thing about ‘Jagbags’ is its wit.  “Come and join us in this punk rock tomb/Come slam dancing with some ancient dudes” Malkmus beckons on the ironic, sly-digging ‘Rumble at the Rainbo’. There’s honest melancholy, too;  ‘I don’t have the stomach for your brandy/ I can hardly sip your tea/ I don’t have the teeth left for your candy’ is an excellent lyric appearing on the resigned ‘Independence Street’. Perhaps this is a reflection on his current stage of life- he’s 47 now, married and with children- or maybe it has an entirely different meaning that’s evident only to Malkmus himself. That’s the beauty of his lyricism, though; everything’s open to interpretation and nothing is guaranteed.

If ‘Wig Out at Jagbags’ were a person, it’d be carefree but intelligent, funny but pensive, and offbeat but sane. Someone who I’d definitely want to be friends with, and I don’t think I’m alone here. The Malkmus legacy lives!

Julia’s rating: 8/10


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