“If we did it, it would be a complete mockery” — Is Stephen Malkmus From Pavement Right About The Reunion Albums?

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Given the recent headlines, one might think that the only thing that could be sadder than a blue tick for $8 is an old band making new music. “If we did, it would be a complete disgust,” Stephen Malkmus told NME of his thoughts on Pavement’s new music after their famous reunion. “No way.”

The Grand Vizier of the Cult of Kul said, and do you hear this sound? This Pulp breaks any proposed studio schedule. Nevertheless, having engaged in battle with the deadly enemy of the Internet — nuances, Malkmus turned out to be much more generous than it seemed at first glance. He understands that reuniting a band recording a new album often adds creative weight and legitimacy to a project. “It makes the group more legitimate or something, not just like a cash transaction,” he added. “But it shouldn’t be like that if you just own your songs. And people can [then] see if you’re old people on a reunion tour with cash or if they’re doing it because they’re having fun.”

A rave-up on the road could, of course, naturally spread to the studio, but reforming Pavement, as Malkmus explained, was always intended as an exercise in “pure nostalgia.” “It’s just me,” he continued, adding a diplomatic caveat that “everyone can do what they want. This is your life, choose your adventure. If some band wants to record a new album, they like to do it, it’s totally cool.”

Reunion albums, then: cringe or rejoice? Do we believe, together with Kim Dil, that cult groups should not risk their heritage and leave their legend untouched? Or are we with The Smashing Pumpkins? Personally, I’m a big fan of the reunion album. Some of the best recordings of recent years have been made by second artists: Pixies “Beneath The Eyrie”, Suede “The Blue Hour”, Bright Eyes “Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was”. And if new things don’t feel true to past eras or as exciting as when you first discovered them, it’s probably more you than them.

Of course, some of your favorite artists are no longer intuitive young punks who have accumulated a whole youth of unreleased material; ambition and opportunity electrify every chord as they continue to ride the good part of impending drug addiction. Instead, they went through divorce and rehab, left the country with a dozen solo albums that you never listened to, and lost all their enthusiasm for life and music when their accountant ran away with all the money they earned, and Spotify ran away with all the money they hadn’t earned yet. But they’re still making the music that this particular group of musicians would be making right now, and those formative first-era albums that you love are still there: no one is going to mess with them again or re-record them with them. the Philharmonic Orchestra (unless they suddenly got Jeff Lynn on “vibes”).

Meanwhile, you have become about ten years older. You broke up with the one who introduced you to the band in the first place, got mired in crippling payday loans, endured several debilitating STDs, decided that socialism was “unselectable,” turned into a petty troll on Twitter and—having lost control of the zeitgeist in the seething stream of music streaming–reluctantly got into Olivia Rodrigo, because all your children listen to it. Any hope that the new album of your old favorite band will cause you the same uplift that they caused when you were young, thin and defined by music has long gone on the way to optimal functioning of your liver.

The element of “shrinking” that Malkmus is talking about is just that: a fruitless desire to recreate a little of the former youth and energy both in the band and in the fans. But reunion albums don’t have to be so cynical: the trick isn’t to try to be the cultural typhoon that you were, but to embrace what the hell you are now. If you’ve spent the past decades turning your back on britpop to create post-psychological methadone jazz with an avatar band, turn it on instead of trying to make a semi-decent second album that everyone would like to make in 1995. Magic Whip is a prime example of this form: a kind of skewed, strange, brilliant comeback album that could only have been made by a band that spent 12 intervening years following very different solo interests (one pan—cultural visionary, another alt-rock guitarist, one political activist and one bosom friend of Betty Boo).

🔥 “It'd be total cringe if we did that” – is Pavement's Stephen Malkmus  right about reunion albums?

Make music honestly, without pretensions to youth and relevance or longing for the past, and most of us will gladly accept it. Even if it’s as bad as a Tory reshuffle, we’ll be happy about it, right down to the weird new abomination you throw into the live set. Because, ultimately, reunion albums allow bands to continue touring without slipping into the raw realm of stagnant nostalgia with its diminishing returns and shared dressing rooms with T’Pau. And what we want most from the reuniting bands is for them to be able to continue touring.

Make music honestly, without pretensions to youth and relevance or longing for the past, and most of us will gladly accept it. Even if it’s as bad as a Tory reshuffle, we’ll be happy about it, right down to the weird new abomination you throw into the live set. Because, ultimately, reunion albums allow bands to continue touring without slipping into the raw realm of stagnant nostalgia with its diminishing returns and shared dressing rooms with T’Pau. And what we want most from the reuniting bands is for them to be able to continue touring.

Pixies, like most things, have mastered the art. Their albums after the reunion are great, but they are stingy with live performances. They know that their artistic performance goes hand in hand with giving the ticket holder — first of all — what he wants, that is, a lot of sinister alien rock and biblical incest, thirty percent presented in Spanish. Thus, their reunion has become a completed second era in its own right, while their fruitful period remains completely flawless. So come to the Sidewalk, think again. Maybe there are still amazing new streets to wander through.

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