As with his previous five post-Pavement records, Wig Out at Jagbags is a scrabbling curiosity of Stephen Malkmus’ indie-statesman mind, noodle fuzzing on and on with The Jicks crew like 1994 and 2014 are accessible through some secret Portland ‘hood. It jumps from sentimental clarity to madcap poetry at random, citing “we grew up listening to the music from the best decade ever” on the front end (“Lariat”) and building a modern-day shanghai narrative around “Cinnamon and Lesbians” on the back end. It appears the dude could give an everything flying fuck about serious rock, if that sentence made sense.
Not that Wig Out at Jagbags is a 42-minute indie-rock joke. But Malkmus is, is what Malkmus does, and not making sense is a thing of David Byrne lineage that has spawned most of the greatness of his career. And why slow-cruising Jimi-blues jams like its centerpiece, “Independence Street,” may not make sense at first listen, but is an allegory for making sense of everything, at least in the world according to Malkmus, where “indie” is not just a qualifier for cool:
It’s hard to tell what was on the 47-year-old’s mind during the making of the record, aside from a move to Berlin and a string of non-sequitors that came with a press release, including but not limited to “UVA in the late 80’s, “Sic Alps” and “home life in the 2010’s.” Perhaps he’s finally getting angry at the scene that’s spawned him? “No one has changed and no one ever will,” he croons on quirky thrasher “Rumble at the Rainbo,” the setting a “punk rock tomb.” Why else would you want to wig out at something or someone called a jagbag? Either way, he and the Jicks are are still having fun playing Scrabble jam: