Sparkling and intelligent pop.
Stephen Malkmus has lost none of his musical wit or storytelling style but one of his endearing qualities is that they always fit the melody and flow of the music. There may be some cramming of words to make it all fit in but throughout his career; there has been a consistency about the lyrical quality of the man. The silly analogies and the references to people that have you scurrying to Wikipedia are still present on ‘Gardenia’ and they are laid over a chirpy yet relaxed backing track.
The crashing drums add little bullet points to many of the lines acting as a chance for Malkmus and the listener to catch their breath before the next barrage and the backing vocals of Janet Weiss, ex Sleater-Kinney, sit well with the front man’s trademark delivery.
For an element of Pavement fans, there will be nothing that Malkmus can do that will equal the work of his former band but this is now the fourth album released by the singer since the split of Pavement. Opinions will rage about the merits of them but they have all had their moments of brilliance and immense quality. In this writer’s opinion, the debut solo album was one of the best records of this decade and was followed up by a poorer second album but that flew in the face of many of the critics. When you have a singer with a strong history and many styles to touch upon, there is always going to be people disappointed but Stephen Malkmus keeps coming back from more.
If there was to be any criticism of this song, it would only be in comparison to many of the highlights already offered up by Stephen Malkmus so if you have ever loved the work of the man or his previous band, ‘Gardenia’ is a little gem well worth checking out.