Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic
by Lauren Moquin (Journalism), published August 25th 2011
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
The third person storytelling and the innocent beholder continue to define the magic of Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks with Mirror Traffic. After Pavement, Malkmus has composed songs of the same intimacy and wit in a package that is easier to digest for some. There is still the rich sonic wailing of guitars with the endearing nonsense, but with Mirror Traffic one can get comfortable, pull up a chair and take it all in sitting down. As The Jicks feel their way around the verses and the in-betweens, we get to sit back and hear them think it out. It is definitely a musician’s record in this way. Everything is played out in the way that feels right. Nothing is cut short, resulting in an easy listening experience.
One can feel themselves smiling throughout the bulk of the album. It is obvious how everyone involved enjoys himself or herself as they each contribute a fluttering melody or a little grungy aspect of the music they knew to love as Pavement fans. As the light guitar solo breaks out ‘Brain Gallop’, one can picture Malkmus looking back at the band with a smirk before he takes the microphone. Mirror Traffic is just enjoyable with all its genuine effort, character and flaws. Even through the album’s low point of an anti climatic instrumental, ‘Jumblegloss,’ no hard feelings of disappointment are put in place. It is too hard to hate a piece, when you can hear the thought and joy that the musicians are getting from creating the rest of the album. One would have to strain themselves to try and recreate such emotion. It is not hard for the listener to catch up on the genuine feeling of the band.
There is a unique power Malkmus holds in his words. Something is so haunting about the manner in which Malkmus mutters the word ‘sweet’ in ‘All Over Gently.’ There is a power held behind the word that is not the innocent energy that we usually relate with the word ‘sweet.’ When he builds all this soft imagery and smoothly professes, ‘I want you out by July’, you can hear the strength it takes to conceal his frustration. Everything was put on the table to make this record. This is as real as it gets.
Recommended Tracks: Tigers, Senator, Forever 28, All Over Gently