It’s not Pavement. Squealing feedbacks do not equal Pavement. There, it’s out of the way.
Marble Valley, a sort of superband of slacking superheroes lead by Pavement‘s drummer, Steve West and a certain David “Not the funny dude from ESPN” Berman (check Silver Jews if you haven’t, they rule) have just released Breakthrough, their fourth LP chock full of morose singing, chunky feedbacks, humour (a very dark sort of ) and a very easy going attitude.
Sort of The Dude with drums, a busted up amplifier and spiked-up White Russians.
‘Art Pistol’ is the very rocky beginning. Not only Rocky due to its Rock n Roll styling, but also because it’s a difficult choice for an opening act. The feedbacks do beckon you to stay, mermaid-style. ‘Wildlife Free-zone’ might draw some comparisons to that other band, but it feels more like a 70s song, replacing that era’s usual lyrics for a rambling (“never kiss on a first date / unless you’re a baaaaad booooy!”), entertaining stream of consciousness, an approach repeated in ‘Never’ and the late-rocker, dad-rock-in-a-Mustang ‘Groover’.
The meandering “yeah, yeah, I’ll do it in a while” approach is kicked squarely a few times, delivering some rock-out moments. ‘The Dan Map Experience’ has a fantastic, chunky distortion that is upstaged with … a sound that is like a Cyberman downing absinthe with jaggermeister. It’s not a pretty sound but you want to hear to it a little more. ‘Tokyo hands’ is more of a psychedelic numbers, still with it’s foot firmly planted (and possibly strained) in the “Rock” territory, the tongue firmly planted on cheek while the trippy noises guide you through a flea market in Nowhere, USA. Your queue to leave the place is a couple of coked-up hippies talking about Chemtrails while ‘Crikey Lane’ plays.
Who spiked my coffee?
That’s the question that one ponders when ‘Good Life’ passes from being a Marble Valley song into a quick detour into The National. Moods become less depressing right away, though. ‘My Siberian bride’ is both creepy and funny, with a sweet ass groovy mood in the friendly atmosphere laid out instrument by instrument by the band. It goes very, very instrumental to the end and you can relish in the lush atmosphere delivered by the band. Easily my fave from the album.
The album closes with ‘Chin chin’, which again is a strange mix of 70s MOR with a stream of consciousness delivery, wrapped with a catchy little riff from a playful guitar. A small riff on ‘Auld Lang Syne’ ensues… thinking about it, there seems to be a couple of riffs to other famous songs through out the album (I think there’s one of The Beatles on the very first track). It’s a lovely fourth album but it might take you off-guard if you don’t know the slacker rock genre and even downright grate you if you come with a mindset thinking that it’ll be a Pavement clone because the drummer is there. All I say (and this is because I’m a chemistry geek) : “like dissolves like”, so “slacker rock sounds like slacker rock”.
Sadly, there are no squirrels mentioning that they know Geddy Lee. Not that they are needed, anyways…