Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Sparkle Hard [LP] | RECORD STORE DAY

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The fact that Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have thrived, rather than simply endured, over 17 years and delivered six albums of buzzy, sub-cultural significance, constitutes an impressive legacy. The challenge with album number seven is one that any successful band with integrity faces: how to safeguard that legacy and hold on to their identity without rehashing old ground (unthinkable), and also say something meaningful while (crucially) having fun doing it? With Sparkle Hard, Malkmus, Mike Clark (keyboards), Joanna Bolme (bass) and Jake Morris (drums) do exactly that. Itís light íní breezy, head-down heavy, audacious, melancholic and reflective, goodtime and bodacious, and it pulls off the smartest trick: itís both unmistakeably The Jicks and Ė due to the streamlining of their trademark tics and turns, plus the introduction of some unexpected flourishes (Auto-Tune! A fiddle! Guest vocalist Kim Gordon! One seven-minute song with an acoustic folk intro!) Ė The Jicks refashioned. If 2014ís Wig Out At Jag Bags balanced the lengthy prog workouts of Pig Lib with Mirror Trafficís sparky pop moments, then Sparkle Hard bears less obvious direct relation to whatís come before. It also has turbocharged energy and enthusiasm by the truckload.