Preston School Of Industry Monsoon

Whereas it took Stephen Malkmus a couple of solo tries to get back into Pavement-quality songwriting form, Scott Kannberg never really divested himself of the tried and proven compositional habits developed by the former co-front-man over the course of the band’s legendary college rock reign. The fact he still identifies himself in promotional dispatches by his old stage handle, Spiral Stairs, suggests a willingness on his part to hold fast to the coattails of his band of yore. So too does the material on this full-length follow up to Kannberg’s 2001 disc, All This Sounds Gas. Monsoon is at once more refined and more laidback than its predecessor, which tended to alternate between semi-aggressive, self-consciously sloppy rockers and melodic, reflective mid-tempo fare. The latter style has carried over, while most of Kannberg’s aggressive tendencies seem to have been exorcised. The refinement is due at least in part to an expanded list of backup players, including a full complement of Wilco members and Young Fresh Fellows/Minus 5 maestro, Scott McCaughey. Lyrically, Mr. Stairs is as cryptic and nonsensical as ever, opting time and time again for rhyme over reason as he relates disjointed stories understood (hopefully, at least) by him alone. Though decidedly better than adequate, Monsoon all but galvanises Kannberg’s status as that other guy from Pavement. (Matador)