Slanted and Enchanted was their low fi album, Crooked Rain… was their classic rock album, and Wowee Zowee is Pavement’s sprawling double album. Clocking in at 18 songs, it can be exhausting listen – it’s essentially a very good double album that could have been a great single album. Despite the long running time, it’s not particularly diverse – most of the songs fall into the categories of trashy rocker, mid-tempo hooky song, or introspective country piece. With a wealth of material, I assume Wowee Zowee is an album that many hardcore Pavement fans pick as their favourite, but although I love a lot of it, I don’t rate it quite as highly as the two previous records.
There’s still a wealth of great songs. ‘Kennel District’ is my favourite Kannberg contribution to Pavement, a simple propulsive rocker, although other abrasive rockers like ‘Fight This Generation’ and ‘Serpentine Pad’ are the album’s weakest points. Wowee Zowee also features plenty of great mid-tempo Malkmus songs like ‘We Dance’ and ‘Grave Architecture’. The country flavoured material like ‘Half A Canyon’ and ‘Western Homes’ is clustered at the end of the disc, meaning that Wowee Zowee feels as though it has a country EP tacked onto its conclusion.
It could have been an excellent single album, but there’s also something very satisfying about Wowee Zowee as a sprawling double album; it feels like it was supposed to be enjoyed that way.