Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Stephen Malkmus: Stephen Malkmus [Matador, 2001]
The Artist Formerly Known as S.M. has blown his chance, because if ever an album cried out to be called Eponymous Solo Debut, Stephen Malkmus is that album. Exactly the unpredictable effort you'd expect, it utilizes a new bunch of Portland buddies to render the old noises into background music as it explores such themes as Yul Brynner's makeover and piracy on the coast of Montenegro. Either he kicks off from the latter to create gangsta alt, or he bites the bullet and turns into an incisive musical observer of manners and mores. Another possibility, I admit it: He shrivels into irrelevancy. A-