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Pavement
Brighten The Corners Reissue Mick Middles , December 23rd, 2008 11:53

Firing on all cylinders and, at time, in all manner of direction. Pavement began their days in a bombastic, eclectic muddle and, through various formations, slowly started to form a unique if brittle heart. It was a curious Fall-like learning curve that saw the band slowly moulding into a more traditional unit…much to the angst of their initial hardcore following. _Brighten the Corners) certainly helped the band move on - as it were - to form new relationships with a following who preferred, let’s say, occasional melodic interludes.

It remains a curiosity. Revolving vocal duties and a disparate attitude towards genre, let alone song-writing, make Brighten the Corners a difficult album for those new to the band to get a handle on. One of the problems, one senses, was the emergent solo career of Stephen Malkmus, who had already made the decision to pursue a more traditional career trajectory under his own steam.

As such, this remains an entertaining mis-match, heavily reminiscent of, say, the second string of Fall albums (Middle Class Revolt perhaps, or Cerebral Caustic). This reference isn’t as lazy as it may seem, for Pavement never lost sight of that essential brittle heart. Much like The Fall, through a certain chaos came a sound recognisable in its own right.

This reissue stays true to the Domino Records tactic of adding lashings of extras. In this case, now fewer than 29 extra tracks have been unearthered, many of them barely a hop above demo level. While this will be heartily applauded by the die-hards, it does tend to muddy the waters further. As such, ploughing through disc two here, which mixes a BBC Radio One Session from 1997 and a John Peel outing from the same year with a variety of live tracks (‘Space Ghost’ themes one and two from a live set in Boston are particularly note worthy and conclude proceedings here) that do, at least, convey the on stage energy that isn’t always evident on disc one.

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