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Stephen Malkmus’s US alt-rock peers from the 1990s are a pretty shabby crew these days, as epitomised by The Pixies’ undignified lurch around the nostalgia circuit with a succession of new bass players and a woeful clutch of new songs.

Meanwhile Malkmus, former leader of slacker icons Pavement, chugs serenely onwards, releasing albums with his band The Jicks of consistently decent quality. Wig Out at Jagbags, his sixth album with them, is one of the best.

The songs are at once mazy and tightly plotted, stringing us along with false endings and changes in style, while also snagging us in with catchy melodies and Malkmus’s sing-song drawl, which at times – such as when he’s dropping words like “tesseract” into his lyrics – resembles an Ivy League Lou Reed. There’s the right ratio of smirking to seriousness, with even the throwaway punk rock soundtrack of “Rumble at the Rainbo” carrying a wistful middle-aged note of nostalgia: “No one here has ever changed and no one ever will.”

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks

Wig Out at Jagbags

(Domino)

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