You, me, the music, and me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

PAVEMENT Slanted and Enchanted

Matador OLE 038-2 (1992)

In 1993, I was a part-time student finishing up a music degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I spent many days prowling the streets and industrial parks of the city, looking for a part-time job. One afternoon, I stopped by a record shop to kill some time between interviews. Browsing through the used cassettes, I spotted Slanted and Enchanted, the debut full-length album by California indie rockers Pavement. I had heard plenty of "next big thing" talk about the band, so I plunked down five bucks and popped the tape into my Walkman, where it stayed on repeat all day while I shuffled from appointment to appointment. The singer sang lines like "I was dressed for success/but success it never comes" in a hesitantly sympathetic voice... sitting on the bus ride home in my suit and tie, still jobless, I knew how he felt. I must have listened to S&E at least seven times in a row that day; the job search quickly grew tiresome, but the album didn't.

S&E is the sound of the raw elements of rock and roll being reshuffled for the umpteenth time; listen to the opening track, "Summer Babe (Winter Version)" and you'll hear lazy, fuzzed-out guitars played over a bassline that sounds like it was swiped from a Joy Division bootleg played at the wrong speed while in the background someone tries to remember how to play the James Brown "funky drummer" backbeat. "No Life Singed Her" features Tourette's-influenced vocal outbursts from someone who sounds like Tim Roth's Mr. Orange character after being shot at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs. Most startingly, "Here" is a plaintively pretty ballad with keening vocals and languid guitar lines that indicate that success was something Pavement deserved, dressed or not.


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