Recently reunited indie slacker rockers Pavement were an album-oriented act in an era dominated by singles. But this 23-song compilation does the band's oeuvre justice. Heavy on songs from 1994's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain — arguably the band's best album and a record that defined the period — Quarantine the Past compiles the highlights from the band's catalog. Stephen Malkmus' hiccupping vocals were the band's distinguishing feature and get a prominent spot on semi-obnoxious tunes like "Gold Soundz" and the undulating "Stereo," a song that perfectly balances the band's whimsical lyrics with its left-of-center, herky-jerk sound. Remastered here, its nuanced stereo separation is amplified and, given the song title, must be intentional. While Malkmus and crew would refine their sound, which became a more palatable listen by the time they teamed up with producer Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead) for their final album, 1999's Terror Twilight, that doesn't diminish the fact that Terror's "Spit on the Stranger" is one incredibly fine pop song. While it's hard to imagine these guys making another album as great as their '90s classics, looking back on their glory days is hardly a waste of time. — Niesel
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