It’s been a while since we’ve had some good ol’ fashioned Pavement obsessing on SD, so why not break some out today? I listened to the incomparable Watery, Domestic on my walk to work this morning. I have long maintained that on a quality-per-second ratio, this is the best release in the Pavement catalog, and is one of the top recordings ever. Eleven minutes and 29 seconds, not a single wasted note. Well, maybe some of the intro to “Lions,” but that’s it. Trying to pick a favorite out of these four songs has long been a difficult task. Over the past decade, each of the songs has at one point been my favorite. It had been many months since I’d last listened to it before this morning. In fact, it may have been the longest I’ve ever gone without listening to it since I first got it. So it was a good chance to gain some perspective. So let’s power rank the motherfucker.
1. “Texas Never Whispers” – This is obviously a very tough call, but the opener wins out. Why? There’s one main reason I’ve always thought this song was a masterpiece – it doesn’t repeat itself at all. Now, I like a good chorus as much as anyone, and I have no problem at all with basic song structures that feature multiple verses and all that. But as someone who enjoys listening to a song 17 times in a row, I also love a song that starts at Point A and never goes back there. There’s something new around every corner, which does make it ideal for repetitive listening. The way those “na-na-na-nas” come in towards the end is fantastic. The shift from a pretty simple, chugging rocker to a wonderful mess of electric guitar is done pretty seamlessly. That instrumental denoument features some of Gary Young’s best drumming, which you’ll notice is a recurring theme throughout.
2. “Shoot the Singer” – Usually considered to be the best track here, and I seem to remember reading somewhere that this is one of SM’s favorite Pavement tunes. I wanted to confirm this, so I googled the following: “shoot the singer” malkmus favorite. I’m quickly going through the results and I see one 7 or 8 down and one of the lines it brings up “Pavement main dude Stephen Malkmus is the coolest person in the world” which made me laugh … then I realized it was from an article I wrote back in college. Ha! Enjoy it, if that’s possible. But back to this song. The “someone took in these pants” opening line has always sort of thrown me for a loop, but that’s really the only negative I can come up with. The disparate guitar tones that are featured throughout the EP probably work best on this song, especially when the brighter guitar kicks in at the “I’ve seen saints” line. This song also contains one of SM’s more inspired vocal performances. Those staggered “la da da da, da da das” at the end are a thing of beauty and are in the process of being ripped off by The Fake Accents.
3. “Frontwards” – This one was probably my favorite for the longest time, if only because it was the easiest one for me to play on guitar back in high school. Certainly the most conventionally structured song, although starting with the quasi-solo is a nice touch. Otherwise it’s a pretty typical soft/loud, verse/chorus song. The “I’ve got style, miles and miles” line is, of course, a classic, and I’m pretty sure was a signature file on my e-mail back in the day. The little fill after the first chorus and at the end of the song is rather great. This song is perfect for what it is, it just can’t match the two above it.
4. “(Feed ‘em to the Linden) Lions” – Hey, one of them has to be last. Certainly the throwaway, if you had to pick one, but just like “Outlaw Blues” or “On the Road Again,” sometimes those throwaways are the most fun. Once again, Gary Young stands out on this track, throwing in plenty of delicious drum rolls. The song scores definite points for the sports reference (“goal line stand on 4th and two” – nevermind that to be a true goal line stand you should, y’know, be on the goal line and not the two yard line, but hey, gotta keep those rhyme schemes in tact). One of these days I’ll compile a complete list of all the sports references in Pavement lyrics. I think SM also deserves a few points for using the word “fallow” effectively in a great rock song. That’s the kind of shit Colin Meloy dreams of.
So there you have it. Or rather, there I have it. How do you have it? Let’s turn this into an interactive thing. You all have this EP, or you at least have the Slanted reissue that has this at the beginning of the second disc. If you have neither of those, then, well, you must be one of those people who just comes here for the 24 Power Rankings. Hi, 24 fan! Thanks for visiting! Pavement is probably Chloe’s favorite band, so check them out! But anyway, leave your rankings in a comment and we will assign values to everything and get all mathematical and determine a winner. Cool.