Indie superstar Stephen Malkmus in Face the Truth has created an eclectic masterpiece. The album starts out with a loner: “Pencil Rot” is a collection of some of the weirdest sounds you’ll ever hear out of a MIDI synthesizer arranged to a driving, funky beat. Although many of the songs are very hummable, no song has a single texture. Combined with excellent composition and arrangement, the whole effect is mind-boggling.
Malkmus proves he is one of today’s most innovative guitarists again and again; his guitar’s presence is always just right, never overbearing or showy. “Freeze the Saints” is one of those rare treasures which is mellow and smooth but still maintains emotion and meaning. The song sounds country-like and, for a moment, almost Allman-Brothers-esque, but then the lead rotates back through its other textures: from fuzz to twang and indie to smooth in the space of a minute.
A far cry from Malkmus’s Pavement days, this album is a welcome development in a fantastic musical legacy.