Sending out a call to the swines of modern music, an inspired return from the undisputed guv'nor of independent rock music - "are you ready to be
liberated?" What's really great about 'Pig Lib', Malkmus' second solo album, is its faintly sad, understated charm: the work of a musician who you feel is unaware just how good he is. As with his first solo outing, 'Pig Lib' finds Stephen Malkmus tempering Pavement's more audacious art rock leanings and emerging with some of the most insanely catchy and sorely beautiful tunes of
the year. What makes these songs really special is their ability to maintain a pop coherency, whilst being genuinely quirky and experimental. "Do Not Feed the Oysters" not only has a great tune, it's also got a beguiling sitar
refrain and some mad wavy guitars. "Ramp of Death" has a beautiful half murmured melody, plus a sweet mid range organ line that sounds surprising, and at the same time completely obvious.
In this sense, 'Pig Lib' owes much to
The Velvet Underground. Like Lou Reed, Stephen Malkmus has a rare avant-garde melodic touch. He even shares Reed's curiously unmusical vocal
style - just sketching the tunes and leaving the listener to join the dots in his head. This is an album that demands to be lived with, nurtured and
have attention lavished upon it. Yet another
classic, in Malkmus's trash-free catalogue. Recommended.