In 2000, Stephen Malkmus started his band the Jicks immediately following a hiatus from Pavement, his first band. Their latest album, Wig Out at Jagbags, comes to us almost 15 years after the final days of Pavement, one of the most acclaimed bands during President Bill Clinton’s tenure in the White House. Despite this, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks have created a record that could have come out smack dab in the middle of the 90s.
Wig Out At Jagbags spans a number of different genres; the band clearly isn’t concerned with keeping the album within the confines of one specific “sound.” That said, the album’s sonic palette draws heavily from later 20th century music movements, with loads of distortion, guitar solos and simplistic harmonies.
The first track that really stands out is “Lariat.” Easily the best song on the album, it sounds like it comes straight from the past. With guitar riffs in the background doubling Malkmus’ vocals and a very poppy, upbeat drumbeat, it would fit in on Pavement’s later albums.
Of all the tracks on the album, “J Smoov” packs the most punch. The song features a mix of jazz and blues and is one of the more relaxed tunes on the album. It uses brass instruments for harmonies, as well as for the solo, and it’s the closest thing to a ballad in the album’s 12 songs.
One of the stranger songs that stands out right away on the first listen is “Rumble at the Rainbo.” It sports one of the more punk-like sounds on Wig Out at Jagbags and is one of the tracks that really has a feel different from the other tunes. The album’s occasionally scatterbrained sonic variety is one of its weaker elements, and it creates a mood that could either deter or intrigue the listener, depending on their personal tastes.
Malkmus’ voice, like always, is completely individual, and its slightly off-pitch nature complements the entire album’s extremely upbeat, positive vibes. However, it is, at times, a tough listen, only because of the high amounts of genre hopping between some of the songs.
Although Wig Out at Jagbags will definitely not be for everyone, it does feature a number of songs that are quite good and that listeners will want to come back to on bright, sunny days. Even if you don’t like the entirety of the album, there is something for everyone to appreciate. That’s probably what Malkmus cares about.
3.5 out of 5 stars