Collection: 5. Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted

During one of his manias, rock writer Camden Joy protested a Macintosh-sponsored New York Music Festival via posters adorned with lyrics from Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row", the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen", and... two songs from this album. One poster cited the "minions and slaves" passage from "Here", the album's only concession to reverb. The other poster read, "WHY A MUSIC FESTIVAL $???$$ ZURICH IS $TAINED", easily taking a slice of Slanted's random wordplay and imbuing it with a polemical passion. In comparison with the dead art foisted on the proletariat by any number of status quo cadres disguised as rock bands, Slanted is a radical, liberating document. Even the most reductive version of this album's genesis can't sully it: sports-loving stoner brats in oversized t-shirts got conscripted to a burnout drummer and recorded a slapdash do-it-yourselfer that blew up like the proverbial Gremlin in the microwave, increased the market share of both Matador and Drag City, proved that lo-fi could go grandiose, and briefly gave us yanks a band as inscrutable as the best undergrounders of Britain and Germany.

Pavement's most danceable and puzzling album contains segments of sassily oblique spoken-word, patches that go down like prog played at 78rpm, and jams that crucify humorless punk on a whittled Slinky. Meanwhile, frontboy Stephen Malkmus made the preemptive Stroke: a cute diva who could scream as if he suffered from womb envy, his meticulous apathy "paved" (har! oh shit!) the way for Julian Casablancas' blase ferocity. The crenellated toss-offs on this disc blended intense love for noise with unorthodox pop instincts, answering Achtung Baby with slack-toned gravy, and saunter-stumbled into rock history with a graffiti ethic that denies the listener a murkless horizon. The eternal students in this band would probably joke that "magnum opus" sounds like the name of a defendant in a Nordic date-rape trial, but damn if they didn't helm one. Fertilized by fellow obsessive record collectors Sonic Youth, Slanted sounds, somehow, like a manifesto after all them years, from when "Two States" proclaims, "There's no culture!" to the opening of "In the Mouth a Desert": Yup, Steve, we can treat the planet like an oil well. --William Bowers / Pitchfork.com

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