I've been listening to the new Malkmus record a lot recently. Regardless of what the elitists at Pitchfork say, it's rather good. But then, Pitchfork have a history of hating records that have lengthy classic rock-style guitar solos - just look to their wrongly-directed review of Wilco's A Ghost is Born, a record which, contrary to Pitchfork, is only made better by all those guitar solos in the first half.
But then, to think of it, the two records - the Wilco and the Malkmus - have yet another similarity. Both of them feel as if they were originally two separate records that were mixed in together at the last moment. A Ghost is Born is only fifty percent jam rock; there's a concise, hook-filled pop record somewhere in the record's second half.
Real Emotional Trash is the same. There is the Grateful Dead-style stoner trad-rock [[Dad-rock?]] that everyone's been discussing. But between the long stoner jams, there are an number of shorter pop songs that seem to continue off where Face the Truth ended. "We Can't Help You" could have fit in after "Post-Paint Boy" and "Cold Son" could have replaced "Loud Cloud Crowd." Or something like that. In effect, the only shortcoming of the new record is that it should have been two records... and for all we know, that might be why we come back to it in five years' time.
To make things even more interesting, if you look in the liner notes, Malkmus thanks Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Interesting...
If you've heard the bonus tracks that Matador released if you preordered the record, it only makes sense (I've seen them floating around the Web, too). The two bonus tracks continue in the pop vein of the record, and feel like a bridge between his earlier work and his present work.