Is that a goddamn bouzouki? you may ask. A pedal steel guitar? What kind of Stephen Malkmus album is this, anyway?
It’s called folk music, and it’s taking the country by storm. Stephen Malkmus is only the latest popular artist to apply this old new approach to their rock and roll sounds.
Take the name Traditional Techniques with as much salt as you’d like or dig the Adorno reference, Malkmus’s third solo LP without the Jicks (or Pavement) is as organic as they come. It’s packed with handmade arrangements, modern folklore, and 10 songs written and performed in Malkmus’s singular voice. An adventurous new album in an instantly familiar mode, Traditional Techniques creates a serendipitous trilogy with the loose fuzz of the Jicks’ Sparkle Hard (Matador, 2018) and the solo bedroom experiments of Groove Denied (Matador, 2019). Taken together, these three very different full-lengths in three years highlight an ever-curious songwriter committed to finding untouched territory. Perhaps some of these “folk” musicians could take a lesson or two.