Pavement – Westing (By Musket and Sextant)

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Music Makes It All Right
Album cover. A sloppy collage.

“Every time I sit around I find I’m shot” – Stephen Malkmus, “Summer Babe”

Listening to Westing (By Musket and Sextant) is not recommended for fans over 40. You have responsibilities now, and the nostalgic teenage disease woven in the saw-sharp fuzz of Pavement’s early songs will infect you for sure, with groin aching memories of the brilliant young ladies who shared your infatuation with the cryptic riddles and visceral static manipulations of your favorite band.

The next symptom will be a longing for the days when you sliced through the existential angst of high school monotony with the scalpel of alternative rock. Your spine will tingle at the grot and spizzle, the intentional and overwhelming high-pitch static that drives these early songs. Your heart may swell unhealthily at certain poetic turns of phrase, that may not have meant a particular thing to Stephen Malkmus when he wrote them, but have a rich and specific significance in your secret emotional landscape.

Strange transcendent feelings may confuse you.

By the time you get to “Summer Babe” you may suddenly feel that you have always been this old,
that you have just woken up with a vague memory of being awake before,
that you are awake and weary
and the lost memories of the times between hearing these songs and earlier times you have heard these songs are as beautiful as this moment,
but distant and blurred,
both sad and joyful,
mostly lost,
and you may remember that this is the way things have always been, and you felt old and weary when you heard this song at seventeen, and you also remember how you were a giant, containing multitudes, and music was your secret power.

You may even feel that you are filled with this power again, that life’s awful beauty has revealed itself to you, and you have survived, that you can let it fill you anytime. You may feel the future is vast and filled with art, love and strangers who love Pavement like you do.

But you are older now, and a body can only take so much. Take the album off repeat. Drink lots of water. Symptoms should fade after a day or two. The only treatment is time.


Review: Consequence of Sound

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