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STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS Middle America gets 7/10

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Middle America
Matador/Remote Control


In November of last year Stephen Malkmus performed an electronic, guitar-less based performance in his long adopted home town of Portland Oregon, suggesting he might be channelling his hero David Bowie’s Low period. So with this first slice of new music since 2014’s Wig Out at Jagbags I immediately felt a slight disappointment, thinking the song could appear on any of his last two records.

I was expecting that he and his fellow Jicks might explore a different style and approach. Like so many obsessive fans, that’s my problem not Stephen’s. I paused to realise that in the autumn of his career he is still pulling out melodies to die for and his band who seemingly record live are a tight and intuitive unit. Do we really expect him to do an about face? And if he did, we’d piss and moan about it like the new Star Wars films. And who else in the world would rhyme blushin’, with Robitussin?

The song is sweet and gentle with a simple steady rhythm track and the coolest little guitar licks but it’s the vocals that essentially carry the hook (no Malkmus pun intended). This is possibly a way to lead us back in gently before the one-two punch. I hope so.


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