Traditional Techniques by Stephen Malmus [6/10]

Indie legend Stephen Malkmus goes folk on “Traditional Techniques” but with plenty of angles, be they blues guitar figurings or slide guitar additions, and always focused on his wry, sometimes mumbled, sometimes yelped lyrics. Always the songs sit up for a chorus that sounds sweet. Loosely constructed songs are held up with hypnotic arrangements. “Traditional Techniques” feels like an intimate club conversation with some sophistications thrown in, a conversation that beguiles and flows. I know many will find the slow pace of many songs and the slacker lyrics to add up to ho-hum, but I greatly enjoyed playing the entire album again and again. Standouts include the sweetly melodic attack on lawyers, “The greatest own in legal history”; the upbeat “Xian man” with a killer chorus, with lovely guitar that somehow echoes Led Zeppelin; and the sublime acoustic picker “Brainwashed.” Oddly memorable.

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