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December 2019 / January 2020
Album review

Stephen Malkmus - Groove Denied

It feels like Malkmus is stuck between stations.
Label: Domino
Released: 15th March 2019
Rating: ★★
Stephen Malkmus - Groove Denied
Published: 11:38 am, March 14, 2019Words: Martyn Young.

Stephen Malkmus is the king of indie. The legendary Pavement frontman has been a touchstone for slacker indie kids for decades now, but he’s getting restless. He wants to do something different. So, here comes his long-promised diversion into esoteric electronica with the rough and ready ‘Groove Denied’.

The album was recorded in rudimentary style by Malkmus using Ableton live and thus has a homespun rough-hewn charm that illuminates some pretty basic sonics like on the playful, LCD lite groove of ‘Viktor Borgia’.

Despite the different musical approach the album is still recognisably Malkmusian. You can hear it on the fuzzy, poppy ‘Come Get Me’ and the freewheeling ‘Rushing The Acid Frat'.

Often though, it feels like Malkmus is stuck between stations. He wants to experiment and cut loose, but he can’t quite leave behind his long-established persona. Songs like ‘Bossviscerate’ are lovely little indie pop jams, but they echo joys of old rather than anything particularly new.

‘Groove Denied’ sounds like something that began as an interesting concept but meanders into just another Stephen Malkmus album, this time sans Jicks. There’s much to enjoy, but consider this the gentlest of dips into electronic waters.

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