After announcing his debut project with the release of his initial solo album 'Groove Denied' last year, it seemed that former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus was looking to pursue something completely different on his own. While his work in both Pavement and subsequent project The Jicks were layered in mild and irreverent indie-rock pursuits, 'Groove Denied' was a far more electronic-based affair, regularly taking on more progressive and dancefloor-ready aesthetics. But as he delivers his second solo effort 'Traditional Techniques', it seems he is heading in the completely opposite direction this time around.
For those that loved the sound of 'Groove Denied', be prepared for what awaits on 'Traditional Techniques' as it bares almost no resemblance to his previous work. I guess the clue is in the title but this new collection can best be summed up as a series of lo-fi psych-folk singles that rarely see the frontman step away from his acoustic guitar. With a smooth and laid-back vibe running richly through his latest record, it seems that he has looked to explore the more basic elements of the music that has fuelled his creative passion all these years, giving us a boiled down revamp of his earliest material in a broad attempt to reconnect to his roots.
It may not be his most perfect release to date, but 'Traditional Techniques' still manages to excite and thrill as much as it possibly can. Just when you think you have a handle on where it plans to go, it throws in a curveball and gives us something totally unexpected. An interesting and passionate release that leaves us pondering where on earth he will take us next.