Albums of 2008: – Day 31 – Stephen Malkmus & Jicks – Real Emotional Trash

Malkmus lays out exactly what Real Emotional Trash is going to be right from the start. Chugging, aerial distorted guitars rev up the beginning of “Dragonfly Pie” as he sings, “Of all my stoned digressions, some amputated into the truth.” And with this album that’s, well, the truth.

“Hopscotch Willie” is next, a poetic device bounce turned groove turned children’s playground chant turned “Law and Order” plot. “Cold Son” cops a little Ray Davies magic before turning into classic Malkmus. The title track stretches over ten minutes, showing just the sort of mood Steve and the Jicks were in when they put this one together. It’s exactly the kind of jam that 2008 needed.

“Baltimore” is the album’s keystone and features its penultimate moment, the ecstatic line “I’m in love with a soldier from Baltimore…. Baltimoooore…. Baltimore….. Baltimooore… Baltimowhoawhoawhoawhoa!” That let-loose tune is followed by the tight whimsical diddy pop of “Gardenia,” as if Malkmus is saying, “Yeah, we can kick it hard in a nightclub, but we can also skip deftly through the green grass.”

“Elmo Delmo” is the chill second cousin of “Hopcotch Willie,” and on “We Can’t Help You” Malkmus turns around from jamming with his back to the audience and gets a little more frank about things. “Wicked Wanda” wraps up the album with a little bit of everything that’s been sampled so far. It’s a mixing together of the leftovers, but not at all stale or spoiled.

Janet Weiss’ drumming locks in perfectly with Malkmus and Mike Clark. Joanna Bolme’s backing vocals are spot on. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. This album probably my favorite of 2008.

After the break, the video for “Gardenia.”

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