Stephen Malkmus was the first to take the solo plunge. His album's title,
Stephen Malkmus, and the airbrushed Teen Beat-style cover photo
screamed, "This is all about me!" Now Scott Kannberg
has taken his turn under the name Preston School of Industry, with the
post-Pavement answer to All Things Must Pass, All This Sounds
On Gas, Kannberg addresses the principal problem with Pavement's last
two albums they tried too hard. Melodies used to be effortless, they
rolled off the tongue like an ice cube ("Summer Babe"), but as time went on,
more and more unnecessary notes got added ("Shady Lane" 's awkward chorus
with Malkmus reaching uncomfortably high, "EV-ry body wants one").
Gas simplifies everything to the days of Crooked Rain, Crooked
Rain, choosing spaciousness over clutter.
The pedal steel licks and keyboard riffs augment the straightforward,
countrified vocal on "A Treasure @ Silver Bank (This Dynasty's For Real)."
One of the album's other standout tracks, "Monkey Heart and the Horses' Leg,"
employs a three-note cello riff to envelop Kannberg's stoned murmur,
recalling the classic Pavement ballad "Zurich Is Stained." The songs showcase
arrangements more than just melodies, allowing a more complete and airy sound.
All This Sounds Gas feels more like a collaborative effort than much
of Pavement's discography because Kannberg chooses to highlight the song as a
whole, not just his contribution. If there is a rivalry brewing between the
ex-Pavement collaborators, give Kannberg the early edge. Malkmus' debut
sounds just like we all thought it would, but Kannberg has made an album of
fine indie pop that few could have expected.