11 Songs, 43 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Stephen Malkmus has been working with The Jicks far longer than he did with Pavement; their trick bag is more diverse than ever on Sparkle Hard. Sure, the gently melodic "Middle America" evokes Pavement circa Crooked Rain, and the crunch 'n' stomp of "Shiggy" bears hints of that band's harder side. But there's a Flaming Lips vibe to the lush, sprawling "Difficulties - Let Them Eat Vowels," and the dizzying "Kite" is like three songs in one, flitting freely from folk to prog to alt-rock and underlining Malkmus' essential unpredictability.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Stephen Malkmus has been working with The Jicks far longer than he did with Pavement; their trick bag is more diverse than ever on Sparkle Hard. Sure, the gently melodic "Middle America" evokes Pavement circa Crooked Rain, and the crunch 'n' stomp of "Shiggy" bears hints of that band's harder side. But there's a Flaming Lips vibe to the lush, sprawling "Difficulties - Let Them Eat Vowels," and the dizzying "Kite" is like three songs in one, flitting freely from folk to prog to alt-rock and underlining Malkmus' essential unpredictability.

TITLE TIME
2:54
2:43
4:37
3:34
3:31
3:08
3:16
6:40
2:51
3:24
7:03

Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5

13 Ratings

13 Ratings

Malkmus keeps cranking out the great jams!

Jwood881

Love Middle America! Excited for the rest!

Sparkles Hard

Jisk

I have been a big fan of Malkmus’ solo stuff since his solo debut in 2001, and I can say for sure that this is his most ambitious project since Pavement disbanded in 1999. Is it his best solo record? It’s a little too early for me to call it that yet, because all of the albums are so, so good. If you haven’t been listening for the past 17-ish years, you have really been missing out. I would say this is his most polished effort since Real Emotional Trash in 2008, and this is a better album. “Solid Silk” is the standout track for me, but the triumvirate of that track, plus “Bike Lane” and “Middle America” is the best three song stretch on the album. Get this to get into him, then check out his earlier releases. I hope he gets his due someday and everyone will realize that he is a quiet genius.

Masterpiece

Idonthaveaclue

Thank you, S.M.

About Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

After Pavement announced they were going on hiatus at the end of 1999, the status of one of America's finest indie rock bands was a mystery for the first half of 2000. It became clearer that summer, however, when it was revealed that both singer/songwriter/guitarists Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg were preparing solo albums. Malkmus was particularly busy during that time, performing new songs with Kim's Bedroom — a one-off group that also included Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Jim O'Rourke — that spring in Holland, and recording them at studios near his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Working with him were the Jicks, aka Portland indie rock veterans drummer/percussionist John Moen and bassist Joanna Bolme. Moen had played with the Fastbacks, the Dharma Bums, and his own group, the Maroons; Bolme played with the Minders and worked as an engineer at Jackpot Studios, where Pavement's Terror Twilight was demoed and parts of Malkmus' new project were recorded. Initially, Malkmus intended to release the album on his own or through a local label, but when his old label, Matador, received a copy, they agreed to release it. By the time Malkmus officially confirmed Pavement's breakup in the November 2000 issue of Spin magazine, Matador announced it was releasing the album — originally titled Swedish Reggae and then changed to Stephen Malkmus — in winter 2001. The Jicks made their live debut that January at New York's Bowery Ballroom and spent the rest of the winter and spring touring the U.K. and the U.S., including a gig at South by Southwest with labelmates Mogwai and the reunited Soft Boys. Former Pavement percussionist Bob Nastanovich acted as the Jicks' tour manager and Elastica leader Justine Frischmann — another friend of Malkmus' — joined the band as a guitarist for selected dates. On 2003's darker, trippier Pig Lib, the Jicks shared credit with Malkmus, reflecting the album's more band-like feel. Released in 2005, Face the Truth — on which Malkmus embraced domesticity with a whimsical feel missing from his work since Wowee Zowee — featured Malkmus with and without the Jicks, who also supported him on tour that summer. On 2008's Real Emotional Trash, the Jicks welcomed former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss into their fold, giving the album's psychedelic free-for-alls greater heft. Mirror Traffic followed in 2011, featuring Beck stepping in as producer and Weiss taking her last bow as the Jicks' drummer. Moving to Berlin just before the release of Mirror Traffic in 2011, Malkmus would use this uprooting of his family as the catalyst of inspiration for his sixth album. Returning to the studio in 2013, Malkmus and co. enlisted the production skills of former Pavement live engineer Remko Schouten to record 2014's Wig Out at Jagbags. It would be four years before Malkmus & co. put out another long player, but in 2018 the band released their seventh studio album. Sparkle Hard was produced by Chris Funk of the Decemberists, and it included the lead single "Shiggy," the previously released "Middle America," and the Kim Gordon-featuring "Refute."

HOMETOWN
Santa Monica, CA
BORN
May 30, 1966

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