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Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks

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STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS

Irony has long been a liability for Stephen Malkmus, and now it's verging on a debilitating illness. Hook for hook Stephen Malkmus, the first solo album from the former Pavement front man, might be the strongest thing he's ever done. His melodies are indelible, from the breezy, marimba-kissed "Phantasies" to the Lennon-esque lilt of "Vague Space," and they can magically make clunky-looking lines like "You're such monumental slime / Let the punishment fit the crime / We'll tie you to a chair / The house music will blare / And turn your ears into a medicinal jelly" (from "Jo Jo's Jacket") come out smooth as butter. But it's tough to get involved in his songs when he doesn't sound involved himself, and his trademark smirky delivery makes even bouts of total silliness like "The Hook" ("At age 19 I was kidnapped by Turkish pirates / Mediterranean thugs / After some torture they considered me their mascot") seem hollow rather than inspired. His Portland-based band, the Jicks, with sometime Fastbacks drummer John Moen and Minders bassist Joanna Bolme, do their best to bring the songs to life, but Malkmus's reluctance to invest emotionally in his music is starting to make me wonder how much time I want to invest in listening to it. Friday, April 6, 6:30 PM (sold-out) and 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.

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