Former Pavement principal/college-rock slacker titan Malkmus' fourth album with the Jicks is a love letter to all that came before in rock 'n' roll, executed from the perspective of a group whose own tradition is firmly rooted in the '90s alt-rock canon.
Wig Out at Jagbags (Matador Records) opens with the acid-rock drone of "Planetary Motion," a track that wouldn't seem out of place alongside Cream's "I Feel Free" on the classic-rock airwaves. From there, the band meanders with a deceptive laziness among sounds, moods and tempos; "Lariat" recalls the jazzy, coked-out late nights of Steely Dan, while "Shibboleth" is all indie quirk, "Rumble at the Rainbo" soundchecks vintage Weezer and "Independence Street" conjures the ghosts of twangy pre-jam rockers. Through it all, the band sounds supremely at home in the lanky, loosey-goosey yet capable and confident style that's come to define most of Malkmus' latter-days work, switching up elastic rhythms as easily as they trade in three-chord fuzz for a subtle, muted trumpet solo. Wig Out at Jagbags feels, more than anything, like it was fun to make, and that sense of easy enjoyment colors this diverse collection of tunes from beginning to end. (Critics' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars)