Stephen Malkmus - Face The Truth (Cover Artwork)

Stephen Malkmus

Face The Truth (2005)


I never really liked Pavement. Sure, I'd always feign appreciation for them for fear of losing face in front of my peers (the other music snobs), but the truth is they didn't ever impress me. Their sound just felt too disjointed, their lyrics didn't feel original or earnest or insightful, and I can vaguely remember on my first listen thinking that the singer sounded like an irritating variation of Travis Morrison. Of course, now I know that that singer was Stephen Malkmus…and that by a large part of the indie community, he's seen as a genius. So I briefly thought about how much better Elliott Smith albums were than Smith's first band Heatmiser…and I decided a chance for redemption was in order.

Malkmus' third solo album Face The Truth certainly isn't quite on the level of anything Elliott Smith (or really even in the same area of sound), but quality, it certainly is. Apparently, since Pavement disbanded and the time after his other solo releases Malkmus made a very important discovery: the synthesizer. Imagine my surprise when instead of softly plucked guitar chords I was greeted with a bouncy piano synth and a crashing, mechanical drum roll.

But don't pout and moan just yet; Malkmus hasn't converted all the way over to synth-pop. He still manages to throw a number of folk instruments (guitar, sitar, banjo and God knows what else…) into the mix. The diversity with the range of sounds gives us energized, danceable synth / electric guitar-mixed songs like the opener "Pencil Rot" and more deliberate tunes like "It Kills" and "Post-Paint Boy." While many artists before him relied on the traditional instruments on their solo releases, Malkmus' almost excessive use of the synthesizer makes Face The Truth all the more exciting.

Malkmus hasn't matured much lyrically since his Pavement days (surprising considering he's a father now) but this time around his boyish charms shine through. Face The Truth will have you admiring the orchestration just as much as it will have you admiring Malkmus' sometimes asinine delivery and his way with words. It's far from an instant classic (there's a few drag-along tracks in the middle of the disc), but if you've been following Malkmus throughout his career in music, chances are you'll dig Face The Truth too.