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Friday, October 21, 2016

Pavement -- Terror Twilight


I was doing the thing all seventeen year-old dude's love, giving my younger sister and brother a ride around town. They wanted to go to Wendy's, so I pulled off of Florida Boulevard into Dave Thomas' baby's parking lot, only to find the window's boarded up, and letters hanging off the sign. My lovely siblings began to serenade me with their lovely songs of "Nice job, idiot," but then the first notes of "Major Leagues" stretched out of my car speakers and everybody shut their pie holes. We just sat in the parking lot, as KLSU worked the kind of magic that won it the 225 "Best Radio Station in the City" award that year. I started college the next year and became a DJ there, and they never won another award, but I am sure that is just a coincidence.
"Who is this?" my sister asked.
"Pavement, I think," I said, even though I knew it was Pavement, but I used to preface a lot of things I said back then with "I think," which maybe wasn't that bad of an idea.
KLSU played a Those Bastard Souls song next, but they never announced who it was, and it took me like 12 years to figure it out, but that review is four letters away, and now it is time for Pavement's final album, Terror Twilight.
I love Terror Twilight. I like that, while it is unarguably a rock album, it contains a multitude of sounds, is relaxed, but never runs out of energy. I love that every time I listen to it, I feel better by the end than I did before I listened. I love how it sounds like it is going to end all dark and stressed out, then presents a jolly nonsensical "everything is going to be alright" album closer, whose title begins with an ellipses. I love how "Folk Jam" incorporates a genre that isn't necessarily my favorite, and creates a charming rock song out of it. I love how "Platform Blues," doesn't incorporate the blues in any way, but is still a great song (and I like the Blues). Most of all, I love "Major Leagues," and I love how relaxed it is, and how it is hypnotically calming, and makes me feel so good. It is such a great song.

After I decided how much I loved Terror Twilight, Pavement fans tried to tell me that it wasn't any good, and that Pavement's older albums were where it's at. I listened to those older albums, and they sound like they were made by a talented band who is purposely trying to sound bad--vocalist, Stephen Malkmus, singing bum notes, guitar solos in three different keys, production lousy. Previous Pavement sounded like the ultimate, we could be awesome, but just to be ironic, we won't be band, and I don't understand the appeal in listening to that.  
However, their final album, Terror Twilight was produced by Nigel Godrich, who has produced every Radiohead album since OK Computer. If that doesn't impress you, he also produced Beck's Sea Change, which is generally regarded as one of the greatest albums ever recorded, receiving perfect scores from such established publications as Billboard, Rolling Stone, Slant, and The Nicsperiment. Nigel Godrich is not about to put up with Pavement's bullcrap. On Terror Twilight, Malkmus sings in key, and the instrumentation retains Pavement's unique character, but sounds professional. Plus, you get Godrich's spacey touch. So Terror Twilight contains all the pros of Pavement's "slacker" vibe, and none of the cons, while containing loads of atmosphere, and featuring Malkmus' strongest songwriting to date. If that's selling out, sign me up. I wish the band could have recorded ten more with Godrich instead of immediately breaking up.
BONUS: The reason the sitcom How I Met Your Mother won me over: the eleventh episode, Drumroll Please, ends with the blissful "Spit on a Stranger," causing me to say, "Holy crap, Pavement. This show knows its stuff (Except how to end properly. They should have paid better attention to Terror Twilight)!"

1999 Matador
1. Spit on a Stranger 3:04
2. Folk Jam 3:34
3. You Are a Light 3:54
4. Cream of Gold 3:47
5. Major Leagues 3:24
6. Platform Blues 4:42
7. Ann Don't Cry 4:09
8. Billie 3:44
9. Speak, See, Remember 4:19
10. The Hexx 5:39
11. Carrot Rope 3:52


Azure Ides-Grey said...

They have a good sound! Reminds me a little of Wheat. Also, did you intentionally try to dodge mentioning Pitchfork? Can't blame you for that ... glad you mentioned The Nicsperiment instead ;)

Nicholas said...

Aw, man, I'm happy to say that it didn't even occur to me to put them as a reference!