After the energised pop of 2011’s Mirror Traffic, Wig Out At Jagbags sees Stephen Malkmus and his Jicks take another left turn. 

All Malkmus’ trademarks are here (rambling, brilliant guitar solos matched with rambling, brilliant lyrics), but they’re assembled in a very relaxed way, even for him. He sounds adult and content on this one, making it hard to compare to his other albums. Pig Lib with more focus? Real Emotional Trash’sflashy guitar without the wank? His self-titled album’s professionalism with better songs? All are partially true, leaving it easier just to describe it as a batch of quintessential Malkmus.

 

And what a batch it is. ‘Lariat’ and its refrain “We grew up listening to the music from / The best decade ever” makes it nostalgic for any listener, regardless of age. ‘Chartjunk’ and ‘J Smoov’ feature Malkmus’ most extensive use of horns yet, and both are highlights. With no disrespect to The Jicks, Wig Out is what a Stephen Malkmus of Pavement solo album should be. All other Malkmus albums tried to have some separate musical identity. 

 

Here, he’s just put together a collection of fine songs, finally realising that’s all he needs to do.

 4/5 stars

Wig Out At Jagbags is out now on Spunk. 

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