Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Stephen Malkmus

  • Stephen Malkmus [Matador, 2001] A-
  • Face the Truth [Matador, 2005] B+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

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-

Face the Truth [Matador, 2005]
Solo for real, Malkmus plays just about everything on this consistently enjoyable, predictably inconsequential recording. "You're the maker of modern minor masterpieces for the untrained eye," goes "Post-Paint Boy." As he must know--he's so knowing--substitute "ear" for "eye" and the self-portrait could make a lesser man afraid to look in the mirror without some company. B+