STEPHEN MALKMUS And The JICKS — ” Sparkle Hard “

Posted: June 25, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Modesty and plain good manners might prevent them from saying so themselves, but the fact that Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks have thrived, rather than simply endured over 17 years and delivered six albums of buzzy, sub-cultural significance, constitutes an impressive legacy. The challenge with album number seven is one that any successful band with integrity faces: how to safeguard that legacy and hold on to their identity without rehashing old ground (unthinkable), and also say something meaningful while (crucially) having fun doing it? Meeting that issue head on in the run up to The Jicks’ seventh record involved some “navel gazing”, according to singer, songwriter, and guitarist Malkmus and not only in terms of what it means to be releasing music in 2018. If, like him, you’re a voracious consumer of all kinds of culture and feel the need to interact with it, rather than just react, then inevitably “there’s a world that prompts you to put your best foot forward”. With Sparkle Hard Malkmus, Mike Clark (keyboards), Joanna Bolme (bass) and Jake Morris (drums) do exactly that. And they hit the ground running – on air treads.

The former Pavement frontman offers up a collection of simultaneously effortless and intricate songs, reaffirming his ability to write hook-heavy indie rock, and throwing in a few new tricks (vocoder!) along the way. Between a fiddle-fueled duet with Kim Gordon (“Refute”), a chugging rumination on police brutality (“Bike Lane”), and gloaming guitar riffs (“Shiggy,” “Future Suite”), Sparkle Hardis Malkmus’s finest offering with the Jicks so far. And in addition to his melodic triumphs, Malkmus hasn’t lost any of his verbal wit since his last album, 2014’s Wig Out at Jagbags. “You know you should be blushin’ / To a hue of Robitussin” he sings on “Middle America,” while on “Solid Silk,” Malkmus observes that a working man will “Never see the butter side of his daily bread.” Overall, Sparkle Hardis a landmark offering from one of rock and roll’s most enduring figures.



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