Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Drive Time: Pavement - Terror Twilight

Drive Time is a weekly feature in which I absorb an album through my #1 means of music consumption: driving to and from work. The requiremints ATM are that albums be indie rock classics or debatable indie rock classics that I have overlooked despite hosting Alternative Flashback on KJHK. So not really being familiar with these albums should be sort of embarrassing, at least in the early going until I make terms with the fact that I couldn’t listen to every album ever before I turned 23. This is making up for that.

Pavement – Terror Twilight

For me, Pavement is like that dude you really respect and are on a like, we-nod-at-each-other-when-we-see-each-other-on-the-street-but-you’ll-never-be-best-buds-basis. It’s not like you can really divide lovers of mid-90s indie rock into different camps, but I’m openly a Guided by Voices fanatic, and there’s something intangible about GBV that I’m drawn to that I don’t really get from Pavement. It just has to do with the person, not whether or not the music is better or whatever. That doesn’t really exist on this level of criticism and appreciation. I know plenty of people who are just as gaga for Pavement as I am for GBV and we respect each other’s band du jour but our favorites are our favorites.

That said, I think Pavement are fantastic, and while I’ve never been 100% on their discography (see: Wowee Zowee with the exception of “Grounded”), I have a great affinity for Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Brighten the Corners. Something about listening to “Fillmore Jive” a couple summers ago and being like “oh my fucking god” really set me straight on Pavement. Those re-issues with all the b-sides, I gotta get into those down the line. I couldn’t get past the first five tracks on Slanted & Enchanted because they were just so fucking great. That EP with “Shoot the Singer” and “Frontwards,” holy fuck. BUT Terror Twilight, the album which this post is about, I’d never ever listened to that album not once in my life until last week. Every Pavement album but this one has been working through my rotation for like 8 years and I’d only ever heard “Spit on a Stranger” and “Carrot Rope.” After spending a week with this bad boy in the car, I think it’s an absolute perfect cap to Pavement. Why not? I mean, “Spit on a Stranger” got covered by that neo-bluegrass (do they call it New-Grass? Is that what it’s called now?) band Nickel Creek and I know that because that album gets played at work sometimes and I’m like “Man this is a fucking great song, is this a Pavement song? This sounds like a Malkmus vocal line.” All the dirty fury and angst is gone by this point, and you just get these gorgeous little numbers like “Major Leagues” and “Ann Don’t Cry” and Stephen Malkmus just being so fucking weird with his songwriting. But even though it’s nonsense, it has feeling you know? Malkmus is a genius at spitting out bullshit and making it sound like sage advice. And I love him for that. And god “Major Leagues” is so good. The more I listen to it the more beautiful it gets. And “Carrot Rope,” goddamn. This sounds like an album made by a band that’s done it all and is content to sail off into the sunset with a rock-fucking-solid discography and a legacy under their belt. There’s no need for them to tarnish it by reforming (reunion shows are OK). I mean, look at “Billie.” The verse to that song sounds like the build up to this amazing perfect pop song and the chorus is just so fucking totally straight out of a totally different song. It kind of ruins it as first, but good god the verse is so fucking perfect perfect perfect. “You’re a hungry matron/ and you are just what I need/ I was tired of the best years of my life” CHORUS THAT SOUNDS LIKE ITS FROM SOME OTHER SONG BECAUSE I AM TOTALLY EXPECTING A CHORUS THAT SUPERSEDES A VERSE BUT THIS IS LIKE THE OPPOSITE WHAT THE FUCK. But you know what? I like that about that song. It’s nice to really love a verse once in a while. Who the fuck loves verses anymore? NO ONE DOES. Choruses get all the attention.

I dig this album. I dig it because it’s concise and it’s a band OK with being done without going out in a total ball of flames. It’s probably the tightest album in Pavement’s whole damn discography, and while it’s maybe not as compelling as Slanted & Enchanted or Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, “Spit on a Stranger,” “You are a Light,” “Major Leagues,” “Carrot Rope,” and “Ann Don’t Cry” could easily find their way onto a Pavement best of and those songs are almost half the album. And the other more-than-half the album is mega-listenable and I’m gonna hope the CDR doesn’t get too scratched up to not-play in my CD player because it’s a great change of pace album. Nice to have on deck. Good for cookouts too, I suppose. It’s amazing that Pavement only released five studio albums when it feels like they have 500 songs.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a definite Pavement fan - big enough of one to have seen them twice in 2010 when they were playing shows - and I'm still putting off this album. That's partially because I'm waiting for Matador to give this last album the deluxe, two-disc treatment they gave Pavement's other four LPs, but also just because I never hear good things about it. Guess I'll have to bite my tongue and listen to it some point soon, though.