Review: Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Mirror Traffic

The dust has well and truly settled following last year’s headline-making Pavement reunion, and once again Stephen Malkmus is back in our collective consciousness. The new Jicks album Mirror Traffic is due to be released on August 22nd. It is produced by Beck, and you can certainly tell; his influence pulses through every warm, stripped-back track.

An altogether more mellow sound than much of Malkmus’ previous work, the record is a pleasant stream of laid-back pop songs, full of memorable, jazz-tinged riffs.

Confusingly titled ‘No One Is (As I Are Be)’ stands out, with its longing lyrics and quiet, smooth guitar melodies. On first listen it sounds a bit like it could launch into the beginning of Eels’ well-known tearjerker, ‘My Beloved Monster’.

‘Senator’ has an angrier sound, and seems relatively inconsistent with the rest of the album, although it is a sound very typical of Malkmus’ back catalogue, and therefore instantly recognisable. While still remaining strong, his vocals seem to lack the passion with which they tore through some of Pavement’s shoutier songs.

The rest of Mirror Traffic is by and large, stripped back, soulful and, for want of a better term, easy listening. It could serve as the soundtrack to an offbeat, indie romantic comedy (possibly starring Zooey Deschanel.) Make of that what you will, but most certainly give it a listen.