Y'know couscous has always had a reputation of being a food so nice that they just had to give the title of it's name to it twice. Either I don't have the proper taste buds, or I've been cooking it incorrectly, but I just don't see what is so great about couscous. I don't like the taste, the texture is ungodly, and it doesn't really fill me up at all. So I was very skeptical about the album in topic, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain by rock legends Pavement. After devoting weeks on end listening to this album I have realized that this album indeed deserves it's repeated title unlike that asinine food.
The album starts out with some messy guitar playing out a nice lick while the bass awkwardly plays some out of beat notes but after that the whole song seems to set it's stage when Steven Malkmus starts singinga melody very similar to Buddy Holly's Everyday, and the song becomes an instant anthem. Anyone who's listened to their first release will notice the way cleaner sound in contrast to the messy noisy sound of the debut Slanted and Enchanted, also a very good album. No they have not sold out or anything. Looking at the lyrics of Cut Your Hair and listening to the more experimental sound of Wowee Zowee, the album after this, will tell you that's probably the last thing they'd want. A big exception is the jammy Hit the Plane Down near the end of the album.
But one thing that haven't changed is Steven's top notch song writing. Even though he says it's not really like that, the songs here are really catchy. A notable is the chorus of Cut Your Hair with nice singalong "Oooh" in there. The Slint like windling solos of Stop Breathing and the jazzy instrumental 5-4=unity are unforgettable. Even though the lyrics are sometimes nonsensical which is usual for Pavement, there are some stand out lines on here. "You can never quarantine the past" on Gold Soundz is so very true and them ragging on the Smashing Pumpkins in Range Life is hilarious.
This album is great. I believe every middle-class teenager living in the suburbs can relate to this album very well with it's warm sound and it's nostalgic themes. Even though you probably don't know the exact meaning, lyrics like "Walk with your credit card in the air" and "I need to sleep" will get you going. This is one of those albums that are on my perfect album list. I give it eight thumbs up.
But wait! I have the special edition with a ****load of previously unreleased crap on it. I have to admit I haven't listened to much of it, but I can say they do a very good job of covering REM's Camera which fits perfectly after the seven minute epic Filmore Dive. A big thing I hate about bonus tracks is that they tend to shift direction in emotion and sound so quickly which ruins the mood, but this doesn't happen here. It's also interesting to hear alternate versions of some songs like a lo-fi version of Elevate Me Later called Ell Ess Two, and a version of Range life with the band's old drummer playing. If you're a Pavement fan these bonus tracks are essential and if you have checked them out, go do it now. It really is a great album.