Stephen Malkmus Groove Denied Matador
After almost three decades, the darling of American indie rock has made an electronic record. Or so Stephen Malkmus would have us believe. Groove Denied, Malkmus’ first solo record, only half-delivers on the PR promise, but given the former Pavement frontman’s rep for angular guitar licks and wry witticisms, it’s worthy of our attention nonetheless.
Belziger Faceplant opens the album like a hazy hallucination of a New York night. With shimmering screeches, tuneless whimsiness and pitch-bent sirens, Malkmus concertedly mines the decade of his youth with two standout songs. Viktor Borgia sounds like a kitschy Gary Numan, while A Bit Wilder deals in Mute Records’ raison d’etre with a submerged bassline and gothy indifference.
Malkmus’ knack for melodious songwriting means the album’s tracks that do trade in more traditional indie fare are gorgeous. Bossviscerate in particular, built on a gently knocking drum machine pattern and slide-guitar hook, is a gem. But largely, it’s the strength of his curious forays into digital tools that give Groove Denied its unusual charm.