Steven Malkmus and Scott Kannberg back in the beginning

All I have is music, played over and over again, slapdash drums, bells, catchy choruses, sha-la-la-las, guitars played so loose and confident they’re almost smiling at you. There are boy-next door voices spinning ice plant poetry. Melodies you can whistle. There’s something like the interstellar space noise picked up on shortwave radios. Some songs start off dopey, then get raw power, while others open like thunder and then slip down a velvet slide.The slower ones are as sweet as rain on your forehead, beautiful the way freeways through mountains can be beautiful, And the distortion doesn’t come from a can, nor is it “texture” or “noise.” It’s a living thing, snaking through the strumming guitars and sing-said words and perfect beats.

That last blockquote was Erik Davis, writing in Spin in March of 1992, noting that Slanted and Enchanted was his “Platter Du Jour.”

Some record reviews are good advice, some are hipster bullshit. A lot of ‘em trash the good stuff, and some canonize ephemeral junk we’ve long since forgotten. But I don’t think I’ve ever read a more exuberant record review, making such wild claims for the music, and then heard them so fullfilled in the actual spinning of the disc.

Pavement, I need to admit to myself, ended up lame and overrated, having fulfilled some of the hype, and having fallen short of the rest. But when Davis went on for four long loopy crazy paragraphs in 1992, making all kinds of absurd promises for Slanted, and for Pavement, he hit all the beauty and all that gargantuan potential smack dab on the head.


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