Brighten The Corners
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Brighten the Corners is mature but wise-assed, melodic but complex — it's a record that reveals its gifts gradually, giving you enough information the first time to make you want come back for more. At first, the dissonant singsong verse of "Stereo" seems awkward, but it's all pulled into perspective with the gleeful, addictive outburst of the chorus, and that is a microcosm of the album's appeal. The first time around, the winding melody of "Shady Lane," the psycho jangle pop of "Date With Ikea," the epic grace of "Type Slowly," and the speedy rush of "Embassy Row" make an impression, but repeated listens reveal sonic and lyrical details that make them indelible.
Even before it totally kicks in, Brighten the Corners displays a sense of improvement over the listless, shapeless Wowee Zowee. A few simple musical touches like Mellotron strokes and ever-developing vocal harmonies open up Pavement's sound without carrying them off into overly textured snooziness. While this is often cited as Pavement's "domestic" record--several members got married around the time of its creation--its songs more often evince puzzlement than McCartneyish delight with family matters. And as always, Pavement is buzzed about rock; the album's final song is called "Fin" not so much in homage to French film as in rhythm to the marching cadence of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk."--Rickey Wright --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
But being a transition work doesn't mean that the band eschews their musical sound or their indie roots. Rather, they just polish up the howly vocals and multilayered musical arrangements, and the result is pretty mellow and pleasant -- and while the original album is excellent, the "Nicene Creedence Edition" is a small treasure trove for fans.
It starts off with the intermittently bombastic "Stereo" ("Pigs, they tend to wiggle when they walk/The infrastructure rots/And the owners hate the jocks/With their agents and their dates") before shifting to the mellower "Shady Lane" and uplifted sound of "Transport is Arranged."
A more raw sound enters with the fun rockers "Date with IKEA" and lighthearted "Embassy Road," while a plaintive confusion arrives with "Old to Begin." The remaining songs harken back to their indie roots, with the monotone jazziness of "Blue Hawaiian" and the weirdness of "We Are Underused" and "Passat Dream." It ends on a pretty strong note with the vaguely ominous "Fin," in which Malkmus requests, "I trust you will tell me/if I am making a fool of myself..."
And the "Nicene Creedence Edition" adds plenty of extra stuff to the original -- for instance, thirty-two B-sides. It's obvious why some of them were cut (the jostling, intermittently good "Winner of the"), but several are also solid second-level Pavement songs (the tight, jangly "Roll With the Wind," the kooky Beatlesesque "Birds in the Majic Industry").Read more ›
I can't believe how many people say that this album is Pavement's weakest. I have all of their album's (except for Wowee Zowee - too weird for me) and this is the one that shines above the rest - and that is a huge call. It echoes the melodic genius that appear in Crooked Rain eg Gold Soundz and Cut Your Hair.
You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you hear music that really moves you - this whole album does it for me. The whole album is consistent and must be listened to and appreciated as a whole from the rocking Stereo through to the rip snorting guitar solo finale on Fin - this album is a must have for any rock music fan.
It is a work of a musical genius/s. Buy it now - you won't regret it.
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However, there are quite a few extras that are worth listening too, especially if you were lucky enough to score the edition that came with the live LP. I received two discs and one LP for 19.99, great deal. And if you are a long term fan this set is really something you should pick up. The booklet is 60+ pages and contains a few written pieces and lots of great pictures. The quality of the printing and paper isn't up to the previous standards of the last three sets, but compared to what one usually gets with remasters, it's great. The bonus material includes alternate mixes and versions, bbc live in studio material, b-sides, compilation tracks, and outtakes. The extra material is not as strong as say the Slanted & Enchanted luxe & redux stuff, but it is still worth while.
So five stars for the set and 1.5 stars for the mastering = 3.25 overall.
I find myself reaching for this one first when I delve into my Pavement collection. It's subdued and textured, much less raw than the earlier work, and the songs all meld together into what feels like a story. It's about shady lanes and all that, but it's definitely not McCartney's first solo disc (famed for its feeling of "domestic bliss"). Malkmus is still critical of his surroundings, he's just found a way to come to terms with them. A very unique record and, like all of Pavement's work, necessary for a real understanding of 1990s rock n roll.
If you're checking out this reissue, you probably know the album, so I'll get to the extras (32 of 'em!). First off, the original album has only twelve songs but they recorded about twice as many. Some were released as b-sides, including "Harness Your Hopes" and "No Tan Lines" which are a few of Pavements best songs, though they never made it to an album (along with "Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence" which can be found on the Crooked Rain reissue). "Wanna Mess You Around" is a stab of garage punk which would sit nicely next to "Serpentine Pad".
Some of the stuff that didn't make the cut has never been released, like an early creeping version of "The Hexx" and psychedelic instrumental "Beautiful As A Butterfly", had all of these been included on Brighten The Corners, it would have been a completely different beast, more akin to their earlier more chaotic sound.
Disc two features the best radio sessions I've heard from Pavement (they get quite zany), including their excellent cover of "The Killing Moon", a cover of Faust's "It's A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl" and a crazy version of "Grave Architecture" with some hilarious backing vocals by (I'm guessing) Bob Nastanovich. "Chevy" is a trippier version of "Old To Begin" that sounds like Malkmus either hadn't written the lyrics yet, or forgot every one of 'em and made up new ones on the spot.
A few other oddities included are their tribute to The Clean ("Oddity"), an extended live version of "Type Slowly" (with a kind of The Doors' "The End" guitar thing going on) that makes me really appreciate a song I never cared much for, and their performances from Space Ghost Coast To Coast from 1997 (throughout the episode Space Ghost only refers to them as The Beatles).
I'd say of all the Pavement deluxe editions so far, this one has the best extras. Even the most diehard Pavement freak probably hasn't heard all of these tracks. The original album I'd probably give three & a half stars, the extras push it to five.
It starts off with the intermittently bombastic "Stereo," before shifting to the mellower "Shady Lane" and uplifted sound of "Transport is Arranged." A more raw sound enters with the fun rockers "Date with IKEA" and lighthearted "Embassy Road," while a plaintive confusion arrives with "Old to Begin." The remaining songs harken back to their indie roots, with the monotone jazziness of "Blue Hawaiian" and the weirdness of "We Are Underused" and "Passat Dream." It ends on a pretty strong note with the vaguely ominous "Fin," in which Malkmus requests, "I trust you will tell me/if I am making a fool of myself..."
"Brighten the Corners" serves to connect the lo-fi scratchiness of their early work to a more polished sound. Sure, there are some cries of "sell-out." But Pavement's sound transfers to the smooth studio sound without losing its complexity or raw magic.
The guitar riffs are as good as ever, starting and stopping one moment, and whirling around Malkmus's vocals the next; the percussion is a solid backdrop. There are also some coy beepy-bleepy snatches of mellotron, as well as what sounds like a wavery flute, giving a feeling of vague vulnerability to the lost-soul-type songs.
Malkmus will never sing in the opera, but his soulful monotone is wonderfully well-suited to the music. The songs themselves have a certain feeling of confusion, as if the world is bewildering and chaotic. "I heard what you said/the leaders are dead/now they're robbing the skies/you can hear the followers cry..."
Pavement was still in solid form in "Brighten the Corners." While it may not be the best, the mix of complex rock and thoughtful singing is enough to make it another budding classic by Pavement.