Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, ‘Wig Out at Jagbags’ (Matador)
When Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus began The Jicks in 2000, the specter of the indie-rocker’s old band loomed.
In time, however, the Portland-based four-piece found its own loose, noodly style. Its sixth full-length “Wig Out at Jagbags” crosses a milestone: The Jicks have outlived Pavement.
Malkmus is an unapologetic music nerd: The album’s title nods to the 1987 LP “Wig Out at Denko’s,” by emo-punks Dag Nasty, and its songs make lyrical references to Eminem, Mudhoney and the Grateful Dead.
“Lariat” is textbook Malkmus — rhyming “Tennyson” and “venison” to an elliptical melodic figure — while “Rumble at the Rainbo” distills a faux-Johnny Rotten sneer, dub-reggae bridge and mosh-worthy breakdown into 90 irreverent seconds.
Occasionally, Malkmus’ deadpan delivery balances precariously between homage and spoof — the Al Green-styled “J Smoov,” for example — and his esoteric wordplay can be difficult to parse, especially for first-timers.
Yet where Pavement’s anarchic sound offered glimpses into Malkmus’ adventurous guitar work, The Jicks’ tidier arrangements have allowed it to blossom. “Jagbags” is smart, nostalgia-free pop rock from a group that simply loves to play.
Editor’s note: The Jicks perform April 12 at the Neptune Theatre.
Other new releases
Breaklites, “I (Heart) America” (self-released)
Peter Gabriel, “Scratch My Back & I’ll Scratch Yours” (Real World)
Kid Ink, “My Own Lane” (RCA)