We've all had mid-life crisis moments. For example, my dad sold the family car and bought himself a motorbike. This album is most likely Stephen Malkmus's mid-life crisis moment. For many musicians a mid-life crisis moment sees them embracing electronica and IDM after years of chugging along with guitars. So this could be as good/bad as Bob Mould's 'Modulate' album.
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I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how to feel about this one. The marketing, the lead single, the artwork. All this suggested that Stephen Malkmus was about to do that middle aged thing, and make a weird creative choice to stave off his anxieties about dying. Groove Denied was meant to be Malkmus fronting Kraftwerk, Malkmus fronting LCD Soundsystem, Malkmus fronting Drexciya. It is, really, none of these things, and instead what we have is a pretty good post-Pavement Stephen Malkmus album. Yes, there are a couple moments that live up to the promises of his The Wire magazine cover. But for the most part? There are just good songs.
So let’s start with the bits that we expected. ‘Viktor Borgia’ has Malkmus laying down a lumbering groove that is charming and shambolic the way Malkmus projects always tend to be. And that in itself is quite impressive. For a man whose aesthetic in many ways defines guitar music, Malkmus has had no trouble recreating it with synths and drum machines. Other than that there’s ‘Forget Your Place’ which is a slightly disheveled oscillating drone, topped my Malkmus’ chopped and screwed vocals.
Now the unexpected. ‘Come Get Me’ sounds like a decent Pavement b-side if it was produced like an early Guided By Voices track. ‘Love The Door’ sounds like a decent Pavement b-side but with some slightly strange vocal production. And to be honest, the rest of the album’s track are in this vein. I guess what all this means is that I liked Groove Denied. It’s clear made it clear to me that Malkmus’ charm will never fail to win me over. Part of me still wishes we'd got the album we were promised though.
7/10 Gregor 19th March 2019
This could've been great, instead, it's pretty good.
I share much of Daoud's sentiments regarding the apparent premise of the record. There's one too many tracks which are Jicks cast offs and not enough of the experimental ones which lured most of us into listening to this record to begin with. But what is there amongst the business-as-usual tracks is honestly great. He just could've gone further with it. Don't let that stop you from picking this up though, because it's a great companion record of sorts to the excellent Sparkle Hard.
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