Pavement – Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed. (reissue)

One of the seminal alternative grunge/pop albums of the ‘90s has undergone a “super-deluxe reissue”, coming at you in a plush package featuring a meaty 48-page booklet and neat cut out cover. The booklet boasts an article by Alex Ross, originally published in The New Yorker in 1997, that describes the band as a “dangerous Dadaist cult”. This is the fourth in a series of remastered reissues by Matador, a sort of fancy dalliance that can only come from either record company recession pains or a shitload of cash. I’m quite glad they’re doing it however, as they kind of forcibly introduced me to this great Pavement album that I was until now unaware of. I’m a Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain kid, but the simple, skewed pop bliss of Brighten The Corners’ songs really appeals to me. Anyone with a penchant for pop sensibility marred by a disjointed view of the world will be attracted to this meandering gem with its uneven ends. And this edition, a two-CD set featuring 44 tracks, 19 of which are unreleased recordings and seven of which are entirely unreleased songs altogether, is an exciting and covetable collector’s item. Many of these sorts of releases are shallow and unnecessary, clearly cash-ins, but this actually seems like it has useful, interesting stuff for fans. Ironically Steven Malkmus even sings “You better shake your rations/ ‘cos someone’s gonna cash in” in ‘Harness Your Hopes’. But no self-indulgent videos lie in this release; which instead includes B-sides to the EPs Stereo (including the awesome ‘Westie Can Drum’), Shady Lane and Spit On A Stranger, rare compilation tracks (including ‘Oddity’, from Flying Nun’s God Save The Clean tribute album), radio sessions (including Peel Sessions and the incredible ‘Neil Hagerty meets Jon Spencer in a non-alcoholic bar’ live radio session) and various studio outtakes. Get it for the insanely good unreleased material, but if that’s not enough (and it should be!) know that the article by Ross in the booklet is utterly inciteful and will blow your mind as well. Ross has an enviably deep perception of Pavement’s influential music and lyrics (“Your classic rock song has been hijacked by surrealists”) that only comes from years of listening. The placement of the article throughout the book makes digesting the whole thing easier, as pictures, scribbles, art and posters break up the text. Likely what a lot of people have been waiting for for a long time.

Posted by Sarah Gooding under Album, Reviews
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