What's A Word That Rhymes With Pavement?

Whats Word That Rhymes With Pavement

Interviewed in Spin on the release of their second album, Stephen

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Malkmus promised that some day Pavement would make an album that was



technically perfect, without any mistakes or so-called sloppiness. 'Maybe by

the time we're five albums in,' he said.

Terror Twilight, their fifth release, has polished their loose sound

to a slick sheen, with every guitar note in its place, every drum kick right

on the beat, every vocal on pitch. From the band that once proclaimed

'perfect sound forever,' the results are a little, well, dull.

Despite the involvement of producer-of-the-moment Nigel Godrich (Radiohead,

Beck), Terror Twilight is immediately recognizable as a Pavement

album. There are the shimmering guitars, the catchy melodies, and Malkmus

tossing off brilliant couplets like 'Architecture students are like virgins

with an itch they cannot scratch/ Never build a building till you're 50/

What kind of life is that?' But for all the great songs and moments, there's

the inescapable feeling of being held at arm's length and asked to admire

the album's perfect construction, rather than fall in love with its

idiosyncrasies. By cutting away the rough edges and spontaneous gestures

that helped to define their music, Pavement have lost some of their

essential beauty. They should know better than anyone that the notes you

miss mean more than the ones you hit.

Ever since Wowee Zowee (1995) -- a ragged, sprawling masterpiece that

perplexed fans and critics -- Pavement has seemed intent on high-tailing it

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to more conventional pastures. For Brighten the Corners (1997), they

trimmed song structures to recognizable shapes, tightened production values

and slowed down the songs. Twilight continues this trend, wallowing

almost exclusively in mid-tempo shuffles. 'I get high on action,' Malkmus

sings on the new B-side, 'Roll with the Wind.' But he only raises his voice

a few times, preferring the laid-back singing style introduced in ballads

like 'We Dance.' For a band that named its Internet site

'Pavement-the-Rock-Band.com,' there's a serious dearth of rock 'n' roll

here.

The album opens with 'Spit on a Stranger' ( RealAudio excerpt ),

a pleasant -- I can't avoid the word -- ditty. It has a lovely melody, a loping beat and swooning background

vocals, but the effect evaporates almost before the song is over. Gorgeous

ballads like 'Major Leagues' and 'Ann Don't Cry' ( RealAudio excerpt )

are more effective, perfecting a form the band has been playing with

since 'Here' and 'Newark Wilder.' The guitars have a crystalline jangle, chiming and sighing in

perfect tandem with the melody, tugging at your heartstrings from unexpected

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angles.

'Speak, See, Remember' ( RealAudio excerpt )

starts off sounding almost like jazz before sliding into the only full-throttle rock on the album. 'Cream of Gold' is

gratifyingly heavy, with some excellent guitar interplay by Malkmus and

Steve 'Spiral Stairs' Kannberg. Even though the quality of the songs is

remarkably consistent (there are no songs by Spiral Stairs), they sound a

bit too familiar, like sewn-together composites from all the previous

albums. 'The Hexx' feels exactly like Brighten the Corners' closer,

'Fin,' from the slow-motion guitar solo down to the lyrics about architects.

The only song that adds anything new to Pavement's bag of tricks is 'Folk

Jam,' which uses a banjo to split the difference between country twang and

Arabic drone, while Malkmus confides, 'Irish folktales scare the shit out of

me.'

Terror Twilight creates a stoner vibe, the lulling sense that you've

been here before but that it's somehow different the second time around.

It's permeated by a sense of impeccably crafted decay, a rarified mood for

sure.

The B-sides stand in sharp relief to the album, telling a different story.

'Harness Your Hopes' is fueled by a pounding CCR beat as Malkmus blasts out

a dense string of some of his best and funniest lyrics. How can anyone

resist lines like 'Show me a word that rhymes with Pavement/ and I won't

kill your parents/ and roast them on a spit'? 'Roll with the Wind' choogles

like vintage Lynyrd Skynyrd (that's a compliment), with an insanely catchy

chorus and some fantastic guitar. Both songs are messy, fun and impassioned.

They're memorable precisely because they don't sound so damned careful.

I was going to end the review by quoting the opening lines of 'Ann Don't

Cry': 'The damage has been done/ I am not having fun anymore.' But that

seems too easy, too premature. Another lyric better sums up my feelings:

'You kiss like a rock, but you know I need it anyway.' Right. Terror

Twilight casts its own hazy, meandering spell, but I can't help feeling

that we're on the cusp of diminishing returns. Terror Twilight lacks

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the liveliness of 'Harness Your Hopes,' even the off-the-cuff charm of their

shows. Still, not many bands, even at their best, deliver this much. I want

more, but I'll take what I can get.