Brighter stars tend to burn out faster, and indie-rock pioneers Pavement — a very bright spot in the somewhat spotty ’90s — were no exception, imploding after five stellar albums. Matador has been dutifully reissuing the band’s LPs as handsome, colorfully subtitled deluxe editions, and the Brighten the Corners re-release doesn’t disappoint with 32 (!) b-sides and unreleased tracks from Pavement’s prime.
By 1997, the band was stretching, and not always in the same direction. Tunes veer from indie-pop (“Shady Lane” still shines) to jammy southern rock (“Roll With the Wind”), while Stephen Malkmus word-slings in his trademark “smarter-than-thou” drawl. The cracks that would swallow the band surface in pitch-black tracks like “And Then (The Hexx),” a b-side that would eventually end up on their final album, the beautifully somber Terror Twilight (essentially a Malkmus solo record). It’s hard not to listen to Brighten the Corners without thinking of it as Pavement’s last hurrah — but judging by the wealth of material the band left behind, there’s a lot to celebrate, anyway.