On Second Thought
Pavement - Pacific Trim






for better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.

After touring for over a year in support of their erratic masterpiece Wowee Zowee, Pavement decided to head back into the studio to lay down a few new songs for fans who eagerly awaited their next step. The only problem was that the infamously nomadic band couldn’t find the right time to regroup. Rather than break from their leisure activities to return to work, they decided to record with whomever they could wrangle up. The end result, recorded without guitarist Scott Kannberg, who was playing golf, is the three-song (or four, depending on where you live) Pacific Trim EP, a beautiful toss-off that catches the band at their dizzying creative and sardonic peak.

The songs contained on the record follow closely with the frenetic b-sides that could be found on Wowee Zowee singles. Characterized by uniformally bizarre lyrics, biting wit, and spellbinding unpredictability, they are the prefect transition between the dissonant static of the band‘s first records, and the wry languor of their final outings.

“Give It A Day” opens the disc with one of Stephen Malkmus’ best tunes. The soaring melody is treated to a sparser instrumental backing, tinted with a nice, jangling guitar. Meanwhile Malkmus’ lyrics tumble forth with no semblance of meaning. It is a song perfectly befitting of such a record, and is followed by the brief, whimsical “Gangsters And Pranksters”, which is hilariously highlighted by Malkmus’ cry of “I’ve got all this Harvard LSD / why won’t anybody fuck me?!?” The American version of the disc closes with the cringe-inducing Scottish torture of “Saganaw”, universally recognized as what may be the only truly bad Pavement song. But the band can hardly be faulted for enjoying themselves.

On the European and Australian versions of the EP, a fourth song, “I Love Perth” is included. Clocking in at a mere 68 seconds, the tune is utter pop perfection. Even if you don’t want to spend the time checking for an import version of this already (criminally) out of print EP, an MP3 should be sought out immediately.

After Pacific Trim, which was itself preceded by nearly two straight years of touring around the globe, Pavement took a much needed break to settle down and rethink their respective existences (Kannberg and drummer Steve West both married and started families). While these years of rest were plagued with breakup rumors, the band would regroup for two more albums. And while the EP also marked the end of their irreverent stage, their modus operandi would once again be revised, much like all of rock’s greatest luminaries.


By: Colin McElligatt
Published on: 2003-09-01
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