Last week I established the comparison between Silver Jews and Pavement, and I’m not sure going into Wowee Zowee with that in mind was a good idea. My first observation was that I like David Berman’s voice a lot more than Stephen Malkmus, who sounds kind of whiny without the redemptive mellifluence of Rivers Cuomo. My other main problem with Pavement is that, in contrast to American Water, none of the lyrics grab me. Apparently - reportedly - Malkmus isn’t all that into meaningful lyrics, and as someone who processes music primarily via lyrics, this is quite an obstacle. There’s an argument in this ILX thread - which for my money is the best place for music discussion on the web - that he puts more emphasis on how words sound and how they contribute to the melody, rather than their literal or figurative meaning. Admirable, but not conducive to my enjoyment. This isn’t a criticism, per se; I don’t think it’s objectively bad that lyrics don’t mean anything, just that it’s not a technique that I enjoy. That ILX thread is well worth reading, though. So, verdict: Wowee Zowee sounds nice but ultimately I don’t care for it. Martin Douglas said it took him until he was 25 to like Pavement, so maybe I’ll wait a while and come back. It’s good to be challenged.
This week: Richard Hell & The Voidoids’ Blank Generation.