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Pavement- Pacific Trim [EP] (1996)

February 25, 2011

I would say it’s a sign of a band really being something when they can release a four song EP of one-offs recorded to get their money’s worth out of a recording session and it still comes out better than some band’s best records, wouldn’t you?

This is certainly the case with Pavement’s 1996 goof Pacific Trim.

Hard to beleive this band would put out a silly one-off, I know, but hear me out

Seeing as this one runs less than ten minutes, let’s just go through it track by track.

1.     Give It A Day- The record starts with, easily, its strongest track.  I could easily see this on the immediately proceeding LP, Wowee Zowee (1995), and in my dreams it would have been placed on that LP (slipping in right after “AT&T”, and yes, I have put far more thought into this than is necessary).

I really dig Pavement and typically judge which are my favorites by the quality of their lyrics. I try to slip them into conversation (with varying levels of success) and try to find ways to quote Steven Malkmus and/or Spiral Stairs in any and all essays I have written while at the University of Missouri, regardless of class or subject matter.  I am absolutely floored by these lyrics. This song has some of my absolute favorite lines in the band’s entire oeuvre.  Though the printed word can do them not justice, here are some of the best from this tune:

  • “In every pew they looked to him/ For guidance, just like eyeless lambs/Awaiting that ol’ kebob stand”
  • “Eyes are eyes and teeth are teeth/ Well mine are rotten underneath”
  • “And he called you a slut, girl/Why’s that?/What did you do to him to make him think?”

Most songs would be lucky to include one line that draws your attention in this way, and this song (from a “throwaway” EP, mind you) includes three.  Just let that one soak in for a minute.  It’s not a fluke that this is my most played Pavement song.

Dude's kind of a genius.

2.     Gangsters and Pranksters- Has any greater plea of carnal longing been uttered than, “I’ve got all this Harvard LSD, why won’t anybody fuck me?”  The answer to that question is undoubtedly yes, but that one has got to get some recognition for its chutzpah, at least.  I’m not sure what drove the band to compare bloody-knuckled gangsters and drink-spiking pranksters, but I’m glad that they did.  Unfortunately, this track’s gravest sin is following a song as good as “Give It A Day”.  Not a fair shake, I know, but I just calls them like I sees them.

3.     Saganaw- This song sounds like the bastard son of “Norwegian Wood” and “4th Time Around” with queasy instrumentation and vocals drawn out to a series of extended slurs; the entire tracks feels like it’s on the verge of falling apart.  I still smile a little bit every time Malkmus goes into a twisted country yodel at the 2:15 mark.  Fans of Neutral Milk Hotel make sure you check this one out.  If the aforementioned Beatles and Dylan tunes are its parents, then “The King of Carrot Flowers Part 2” has got to be its brother.

4.     I Love Perth- Probably the silliest track on a very silly EP.  You can’t help but love a song that is willing to utilize the line “You’re gorgeous, I’m pretty handsome too/We make a pair, me and you”?  Put that over sweeping guitars that would easily fit in on an early Nick Lowe record, and you’re in for a golden, groovy, sunshine-y 65 seconds.

Side Note: This is also a great album

So, will Pavement be remembered for this record?  Undoubtedly not, but when the competition is records as revered as Slanted & Enchanted (1992) and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994), the legacy isn’t really in danger.  Yet, for all of the great tracks on those records, I find myself coming back to the simple pleasures of this little guy again and again.

If you are not already in possession of Pacific Trim, I’d recommend you pick it up as part of the Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition CD reissue.  No one has paid me to say that, just so you know, the Pavement reissues are just some of the best I have ever seen.  Actually, you just ought to pick up all four of them, and prepare yourself for when Matador finally releases Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal.

Now, seriously, listen to this song and leave a comment.  Is this one of the best Pavement songs, or am I crazy?  All I’m asking for is less than five minutes of your time.  Leave a comment. Do it for the kids.


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