Sound — 8
Pavement are arguably one of the most influential alternative rock bands ever, and deservedly so. Although no longer around, their 5 albums continually crop up in best album lists, and are referenced by many a modern musician. This album, their 2nd, sees them expand on the lo-fi, overdriven sound they showed on their landmark debut Slanted and Enchanted, adding more classic rock influences, and a lot more melody, in what is probably their most accessible effort. The music was slowed down, possibly due to crazy drummer Gary Young being replaced. There is nothing challenging; most budding guitarists could have it covered in a couple of weeks, but somehow, it still manages to be new. It contained their "biggest" single: the leering, sarcastic Cut Your Hair. Because of it's accessibility, it is a good starting point to Pavement for those unfamiliar with the band, or the genre. No two songs sound exactly the same, and each one could have a different adjective put next to it. From the messy Silence Kid to the sprawling Fillmore Drive, from the angry Unfair to the hopelessly romantic Gold Soundz (my personal favourite: see my username! ), this album really is something special.
Lyrics — 7
Stephen Malkmus' lyrics had a reputation for breaking your heart without you realising what on earth they meant. Often, they were extremely vague, and sometimes you couldn't even understand what he was singing, so you would simply draw your own conclusions as to what they meant. On this album though, he began to develop his lyrics into something more poetic. Of note is Range Life, which became infamous because it's lyrics poked fun at the Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots, and Billy Corgan even threatened to take the Smashing Pumpkins out of a festival if Pavement played too. This set up many future scraps. All because Malkmus said he "could really give a f--k" about what the Pumpkins meant. Ok, sure, like many legendary "Indie/Alternative" singers (Thurston Moore, J.Mascis, Black Francis, Bob Mould), Malkmus couldn't sing very well, and didn't really try to. It just kind of fit with the feel of the music, as if trying to sing in tune would've ruined the song.
Overall Impression — 10
The sound is still kind of rough, the lyrics odd, the 'singing' average. On their own, it seems bad, yet somehow it all gels together, it works. The track sequencing is almost perfect, with maybe a couple of hiccups along the way. There is not a single low point, with the songs fitting any and every mood. It is Pavement's most accessible album, so it is a great starting point. However you may just get a shock with their others, particularly Slanted... And Wowee Zowee. On the strength of this album, Pavement deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as bands like Pixies, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and the Replacements as the best alternative rock bands ever. Personally, my favourite songs are Stop Breathin', Cut Your Hair, Unfair, Gold Soundz, Range Life and Fillmore Jive. That said, that's half the album, so I should just say I like the whole lot. This album has been a major influence on my songwriting, so if it were stolen, I would go crazy! I would probably buy the Special Edition to replace it though, but this version works just fine! You cannot call yourself a rock fan, or an "Indie-Kid" if you don't own this album (and Slanted and Enchanted too). So go buy it!