Thursday, 13 January 2011



When acts regroup it helps to have something to push/promote when hitting the stage/road.  Too many times such compilations are ramshackle efforts thrown together in hast with a distinct lack of care.  Such releases are blights, stains on a band’s career discography (a clear example being The Fall).  And housing a title such as Quarantine The Past you sense Pavement and their people fully know this (they are of high IQ after all).  However despite such a depreciating record name, with perhaps the best appellation for such an album thoughtfully constructed this 23 track selection is devastating.

In many ways Pavement have never sounded better.  There has been a real clean up job done on these tracks in order to give the compilation a cohesive flow and the result has been to up everything and make it glow.  That’s not to say it has been cleaned up and ruined in a traditional sense, the songs now just feel more weighty than before, they contain more clout.

Cut Your Hair” was the first Pavement song I fell for.  It was weird and unlike anything else I had ever seen.  It was goofy but did not compromise any might.  It was frightening and fucked, a joke you were ever in on or excluded from.  A song able to alienate as much as it could delight.

In similar fashion songs such as “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” and “Grounded” perfectly capture what it feels to be enjoying freedom in a season.  Loud, fuzzy and breezy in all its lo-fi excellence the movement of the music feels akin to being on holiday.

The term Quarantine The Past is taken from the opening track “Gold Soundz”.  The sloppy optimism of the track never sat right with me.  Apparently this was the best single of the nineties.  Pavement was not music about presenting the best possible version of yourself.

Present here are all the great singles thankfully not offered in chronological order.  Some are great, some are good.  Some should have not been singles while others exist in novelty.  For me Pavement tracks were always representative of the climate and season.  Broken hearts retain and maintain as the process always stung.

In my opinion their best record will forever be the wonder of Wowee Zowee and from that we are given “Grounded” and “Fight This Generation”.  The singles from the album are missing!  Then again they were slow, stoned and dethroned (although “Father To A Sister Of A Thought” is for me the song that I crashed my first car to).

Stereo” represented something of a change, a new focus, a new era.  Remaining wonky as expected it added a blistering Sonic Youth type wig out sensibility as if it were expected.  That’s not the say the song is not great, only that it felt like a gesture that was demanded/commanded.  Also from that record comes “Shady Lane” which features Malkmus at his wordy best and brilliant.

Elsewhere influences such as the aforementioned Fall are felt on the very abrasive “Two States” while “Range Life”, with its Smashing Pumpkins/Stone Temple Pilots goading confusion at Lollapalooza and the alternative nation has always sounded like Neil Young to me.  Then there is their explicit tribute/ode to REM on the “Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence” where affection exudes and humour thankfully prevents it from becoming sickly.

Career spanning to their credit they do not avoid/ignore the messy noise of “Mellow Jazz Docent” and “Box Elder” as it rubs shoulders with laidback smooth selections such as “Heaven Is A Truck” and “Shoot The Singer”.  What is very impressive however is the inclusion of “Unfair” and “Embassy Row” which I always considered very similar, very much from the same page.

The final song Pavement ever played when quitting first time round was “Here”.  The first lines of “I was dressed for success, but success it never come” feel telling in both the aftermath and context of the era.  They were losers from the off.  It’s funny to consider they were making such a declaration on their first record.  In time it has been attached to weaker product in the form of teenage angst film but regardless it remains the sound of drowning and works well when times aren’t working out.

As I say compilation albums aren’t exactly indie rock, more a cry for help.  With the band reunited and no fresh product to support, management and owners need to do something with their catalogue (their investment).  Sure the implied intention is to offer a snapshot of nostalgia but was this necessary?  Not after the deluxe reissues of the album it was not.  But whatever nevermind.

“Wake up to people so tall to you”.

When it closes with “Fight This Generation” you can’t help but feel an era misunderstood the message and slipped into failure.  Certainly most of my friends didn’t seem to get it.  There will never be a noted band like this again.

Now which fucking joker included “Jai Ho” from the Slumdog Millionaire in the illegal download of this album I used for review?

Tale Of The Tape:
Watery Domestic – 2 tracks
Perfect Sound Forever – 2 tracks
Slay Tracks – 1 track
Slanted And Enchanted – 5 tracks
Wowee Zowee – 2 tracks
Brighten The Corners - 4 tracks
Terror Twilight – 1 track

Broken biscuits.

Thesaurus moment: utter.

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