One of the best and punchiest songs on this, the Jicks' fifth album, is called "Forever 28," which any normal singer-songwriter would've made the record's title tune. Malkmus solo has always alternated concise "song" records between collections of the Jicks' sprawling jams (Pig Lib, Real Emotional Trash), but Mirror Traffic is the first time he's tried to make a Jicks-as-band record digestible. So Wowee Zowee fans listen up: 15 songs, none exceeding 5:30, several under 3 minutes. Credit Pavement's reunion — they never stretched out like "Brain Gallop," but the impossible-not-to-quote tagline from "Senator" ("What the senator wants is a blowjob") brings some of the pissy gumption of "Range Life" back to the man's increasingly self-contained esoterica. Stuffing remains his problem; one album every three years has rendered his last four records nearly endless. For every arresting cut ("Stick Figures in Love," "Spazz"), there are two soupy ones ("Long Hard Book," "Fall Away" and "Asking Price" make Pavement's dreamy "Major Leagues" sound urgent). You begin to wonder if "Senator" is a diatribe against gratification itself. And when it came to concision, the king of all slackers never used to have to try.
STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS | Royale, 279 Tremont St, Boston | September 24 @ 6 pm | 18+ | $20 | 617.338.7699