Face the Truth

Stephen Malkmus

Not sure what Steve Malkmus’ intentions were with the title of his third post-Pavement release, Face the Truth, but it gives this writer a thread to string his review around. The truth we’re going to be facing here is the hot-potato word “contradiction.” It’s that difficult reality of all Malkmus recordings that makes writers spin around in circles worrying about attaching too strongly to, say, the four or five perfect soft-rock sing-alongs on Face the Truth (especially the breezy “Freeze the Saints”—goose bumps all around), or the one-of-a-kind squirrelly vocal melodies that Malkmus is the king of (“Pencil Rot,” “It Kills”), only to be faced with an extended prog-rock/twin-guitar-solo space jam with nonsensical lyrics (cue the eight-minute “No More Shoes”) and a whole lot of wacky noises and studio wankery. It’s tough, because that nasty hobgoblin consistency always pops up, and before you know it my credibility bubble gets popped ’cause I’ve recommended you shell out $20 for another disc of free-form Malkmus, riffing aloofly as he whittles down to the carefree summertime pop of “Mama,” that one perfect gem that hides away in the beautiful mess of each of his albums.