Before I could do that, though, I had the urge to revisit Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks' latest, Real Emotional Trash. I liked the record on first hearing. Somehow, though, the fact that I'd been listening to most of the songs in live versions recorded at their January 9th, 2007 concert here in Tucson made me less excited than I wanted to be. Interestingly, though, after hearing them performed again live on Thursday, also at Plush, I felt my desire to memorize the album, something I've done with all of Malkmus's work in Pavement and as a solo artist, suddenly activated. Maybe it was the Jicks' new drummer Janet Weiss -- she of Sleater Kinney and Quasi fame -- saying "Hi!" to me at the merch table that sealed the deal. Whatever the reason, though, I found myself completely captivated on today's hearing. It lessened the burden of all that floor scrubbing. Real Emotional Trash is a great rock album that is not ashamed to summon the ghostly spirits of album rock's heyday. I guess "Fillmore Jive" closed Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain for a reason.
After so much guitar, I felt the need to hear something without it, so I put on Carl Craig's More Songs About Revolutionary Food & Art. Generally speaking, the world of dance-electronica-techno has been oriented more towards the 12" aesthetic, with its emphasis on remixing a few strong songs, than albums, but Craig's masterwork, which I've been rediscovering after finally obtaining it for myself on CD, is emphatically meant to be listened to as an album, as its title suggests. Once I'd had my fill of Craig, I returned to the idea of listening to New Order. Only now I wanted to listen to some of their "dancier" synth-and-beats tracks, the sort I generally had the urge to skip through in my guitar-centric past. When I went to pick out an album, though, I was reminded of how much I'd liked their last record Waiting For the Sirens Call and opted to listen to that first. I made it through four-and-a-half songs before it started to skip. Luckily, my favorite songs on the album are the ones that open it. And track four, the single "Krafty," may just be the best distillation ever of their melancholy pop sensibility, with its "Love Will Tear Us Apart"-style fusion of rock and dance music cultures. For that one I felt obligated to dance, watching my legs reflected dimly in the television screen.
Then it was on to Republic, the album with the highest percentage of the "dancier" songs I used to find uninspiring. I still think that one is their weakest pre-hiatus album, but it did sound better after listening to Carl Craig. Part of the problem is that the first song "Regret," which rivals "Krafty" and "Age of Consent" for the crown as catchiest New Order song, is so good that it makes everything after it seem sort of tepid. The effect is especially pronounced in my case, since "Regret" has great personal meaning for me, since I purchased the pre-album release CD single on one of the most complicated days of my life and one, fittingly, that flooded me a great deal of regret.