CD Review: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Mirror Traffic (Matador)

It's been more than a decade since indie-rock heroes Pavement broke up and frontman Stephen Malkmus started experimenting with new sounds on his solo records. Fans will be happy to hear that Malkmus' fifth post-Pavement album, once again made with his Portland-based band the Jicks, is his most Pavement-sounding album since Pavement. At 45, he's a lot more introspective than he was when he was stringing random words together over violent bursts of noise, but he can still kick his guitar into overdrive. In fact, he gives it quite a workout on Mirror Traffic, especially on jagged rockers like "Senator" and "Spazz." Producer Beck layers a typically thick coat of ambient sound (subtle horns, tender keyboards) on the album, but Malkmus and his band cut through much of it with their brutal, primal attack. — Michael Gallucci