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Pavement | Wowee Zowee | review | rock | Lollipop


Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition (Matador)
by Tim Den

Either Matador started listening to the pleas of its followers, or previous reissues of Pavement's back catalog sold like hot cakes. Regardless, third proper full-length, Wowee Zowee, gets a similar repackaging here as its two predecessors did (Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain), stuffed to the gills with a beautifully bound booklet and loads of extras. If you're a fanboy like me, you've been waiting for this thing since your local record store laughed at you the first time you tried to hunt down the Pacific Trim EP on vinyl. But laugh they shall no more! For said EP, along with the likes of Father to a Sister of Thought and Rattled by la Rush, are all contained within Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition, plus the usual (and expected) Pavement in-studio hijinks. Listen as the band drag through a semi-racist jam called "Soul Food"! Chuckle as two 15-second snippets are called "songs"! Shake your head in disbelief as they (or, more likely, just one or two of the band members) cover a Descendents song with a boombox! Yup, it's Pavement alright.

Not that you'd ask for anything else from Pavement. On Wowee Zowee proper, the band - driven by "late 20s confidence," as stated by guitarist/vocalist Stephen Malkmus - explored all states of musical schizophrenia, from penning pensive acoustic numbers like opener "We Dance" to rowdy distortionfests like "Serpentine Pad." Possibly a reaction to the more accessible Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain? Perhaps, but whatever the motivation, the vast spectrum of indie rockdom covered on the record (18 songs!) showed that the band were not only far from being whipped into mainstream's next crossover success story, but that they could really fuck with you and write a great song at the same time. "Brinx Job" sounds like the theme to a TV show where The Jeffersons live in Southern California instead of NY, "Flux = Rad" an early '80s hardcore b-side, and "Western Homes" a psychedelic romp gone terribly wrong. Yet, you can't help but be addicted to their nonsensical demeanor, cuz underneath the (ironic?) fooling around lies that trademark Pavement magic that's simply undeniable. Not to mention that, for every bizarre detour into WTFland, there were two relatively straightforward tunes to savor. "Black Out," "Grounded," "Father to a Sister of Thought," "Extradition," "Grave Architecture," and especially "AT&T" are all as catchy as anything the band ever wrote, with those effortless hooks sticking out of every verse and chorus like some exotic Amazonian blowfish: Impossible not to get stung. Many list Wowee Zowee as their favorite Pavement album, and with good reason.

Though the band would never brave the experimental waters again, I still stand by the brilliance of Brighten the Corners and Terror Twilight. So waddaya say, Matador? Pavement deserve to have their entire recorded output reorganized and reoutfitted, so keep them reissues coming!


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