Real Emotional Trash is the fourth solo album from Stephen Malkmus since the amicable break-up of lo-fi pioneers and all time Hall of Famers, Pavement, nearly ten years ago. On heading out on the solo seas, Malkmus opted for an ‘ifitaintbrokedontfixit’ approach; taking that hyperactive yet laidback and slightly surreal sound he so effortlessly brough to Pavement, smoothing out the edges a touch and then just riding with it. For Real Emotional Trash, he obviously thought his well-oiled musical machine still wasn’t broke, so the odd tinker here and there would suffice rather than anything resembling a fix.
Inevitably it’s a maturer sound, but not at the expense of any of that trademark playfulness. “Of all my stoned digressions, some have mutated into truth” sings that familiar conversational voice on ‘DragonflyPie’ and ‘Stoned digressions’ is a neat way to sum up the music of Malkmus; never quite sure what he’s on about lyrically and musically liable to wander off in random directions, but heck it sure sounds nice.
I often forget how good a guitarist he really is, but he’s never one to turn down an extended jam with a range of effects pedals to showcase his chops. Joined by ex Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss (on drums obviously and the occasional backing vocal) R.E.T. rocks frequently, not least on the title track, which, with the aid of some jaunty piano, clocks in at a hefty ten and a half minutes.
While ‘Real Emotional Trash’ presents no real change of direction, it still follows that path forged by the founding of Pavement back in 1989, and what a scenic and above all fun path it is too - with Stephen Mallkmus up there at the front, holding the flag - your ever so slightly eccentric guide on this enjoyable journey.