Pavement - Terror Twilight
Matador Records

    The first time I listened to this album I heard it
as nothing more than a continuation of Brighten the
Corners, but I was sorely mistaken.  Terror Twilight
*does* continue on the sound developed in Brighten the
Corners, but it extends these often smooth, slick pop
sounds into weird new realms.

There is a strange tension about the album because it sounds at once like the most conventional and mainstream of Pavement's releases and like the most outlandish. I cannot account for this tension, except to say that at careful listen any notions of this as a mainstream, conventional album are dispelled.
Instrumentally, Terror Twilight sounds at first more cohesive, tight, and conventional than anything Malkums et al have produced. For the most part, the guitar work even seems in key and the instruments tuned. TT is an inversion of Slanted and Enchanted, the former was a sort of wall of noise with melodic bursts, whereas TT is a wall of melody with startling bursts of noise.
Of course there are songs that are straight out of the Slanted and Enchanted songbook, like Cream of Gold, where the simple rhythm bulids to increasing chaos and noise like something Stockhausen might have composed only with catchy lyrics. And the folk/country and western influences are probably stronger than on any Pavement release since Crooked Rain. But on the whole, TT represents a serious break with the old Pavement--it sounds more doleful and world weary, the playfulness is more gentle and less mean spirited.
Malkmus said Brighten the Corners represented a Blue Period for Pavement. TT seems to represent a whole new era to which Brighten was a precursor.
TT is rhythmic/slack/folk/atonal/peppy and rockin', often all in the same song. For all its changes in mood and style, for instance, Platform Blues seems as long as a Berg opera, seems like several different songs, all of them good.
Predictably, the lyrics are inspired. Like the album as a whole, they seem more crafted than ever before, some of them even approach linear thought patterns. The humour and the irony are still present, but the self-effacement is gone for the most part--it's as though Malkmus is comfortable enough to write lyrics without that protection mechanism anymore.
Spiral Stairs' vocals on Carrot Rope are fun. That song has lyrics that make it sound like they are trying to do something naughty with a little boy.
In total, the album doesn't sound *like* anything all that sounds like Pavement growing up and that is a new thing under the sun. It is still early, but Terror Twilight is certainly going to be one of my favourite, if not THE favourite, album of the year. Lovely stuff.
...ron provine...

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