Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Pavement return less frenetic, less eccentric and with better sound quality for their sophomore effort Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. While their songs are still strangely structured and they haven’t tempered their uniqueness too far, the overall effect is less unsettling; it’s more like skewed classic rock. While Slanted and Enchanted was created by the three piece lineup of Malkmus, Kannberg, and Gary Young, the band are a full five piece here, with Mark Ibold on bass, and Steve West and Bob Nastanovich taking Young’s place. The expanding sound and tighter playing allow Pavement more options; Malkmus’ vocals are more powerful, while they mix in more styles and textures than previously.
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain starts conventionally with songs like ‘Silence Kit’ and ‘Elevate Me Later’, and gets more diverse further in. The rawness of ‘Unfair’ recalls Slanted And Enchanted while the jauntiness of ‘Gold Soundz’ magnifies the appeal of Malkmus’ oddball persona. The diversity is taken a step further with the Dave Brubeck tribute ‘5-4=Unity’, the Neil Young like ‘Range Life’ features my favourite Malkmus line (“The Stone Temple Pilots/They’re elegant bachelors/They’re foxy to me/Are they foxy to you?”) and the funky bass riff of Kannberg’s ‘Hit The Plane Down’, before Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain ends with the anthem of ‘Fillmore Jive’.
Choosing a favourite out of Pavement’s first two albums is a difficult task; they’re quite different from each other, and both are excellent in their own right. In my view, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain has better songs, but it can’t quite match the freshness and excitement of Slanted and Enchanted.