Slanted And Enchanted
Pavement are generally associated with a lo-fi sound, but debut album Slanted and Enchanted is the only one of their studio albums that follows this template. Recorded in a week at drummer Gary Young’s Louder Than You Think studio, Slanted And Enchanted exudes lo-fi ethics, buzzing with distorted guitars. Stephen Malkmus’ lyrics are idiosyncratic – “She waits there in the levee wash/Mixing cocktails with a plastic-tipped cigar” observes ‘Summer Babe’ – but his delivery is disarmingly straightforward and Slanted And Enchanted never feels gimmicky. The messy sound is only window dressing for the group’s inherent hooks and melodies, and arugably the mess enhances the experience; Slanted And Enchanted has a loose and natural charm.
While these songs are dressed up in budget production, bizarre lyrics and loud guitars, they are often surprisingly catchy. Sounding most like a single is opener ‘Summer Babe (Winter Version)’ with a warm melody and cutting guitars. ‘Loretta’s Scars’ rides a catchy groove, while ‘Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era’ is direct and memorable. Balancing the lo-fi rockers, there are more contemplative works and touches of country in ‘Here’ and ‘Zurich Is Stained’. Malkmus fronts most of these songs – Scott Kannberg only has one songwriting credit with ‘Two States’.
Slanted And Enchanted is a remarkable debut – a new group with their ideas fully formed, and a bunch of great songs.