For all the unit shifting accomplished by Nirvana and Green Day, no band defined the sensibility of '90s alt-rock more forcefully than Pavement. Smart, sarcastic, and filled with withering disdain for any hint of self-serious, rock-star careerism (Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins infamously took it on the chin in "Range Life"), they implicity conveyed to their generation the same message that Bob Dylan did for his crowd in the mid-'60s and the Sex Pistols did more than a decade later: It's all a big cosmic joke and you're a fool to take anything seriously.
By the time Pavement called it quits in 1999, frontman Stephen Malkmus had allowed some empathy to sneak into the picture, and his subsequent solo albums have been untidy mixes of tentative emotion and smug brainiac surrealism. Face The Truth, Malkmus' third solo album, finds him in gratifyingly loose-limbed form, but the downside of that looseness is an excess of off-the-cuff silliness that would make more sense in a deluxe-edition reissue a decade down the line.
| Face the truth |