Groove Rebounded: Stephen Malkmus and Eleanor Friedberger at Union Stage

This Sunday, Union Stage will be hosting prolific songwriters, Eleanor Friedberger and Stephen Malkmus. On their latest records, both artists have taken a more synthetic and nuanced approach to their song-writing and compositions. With stylistic imprints ranging from krautrock and post-punk to gothic synth-pop, the pairing of Friedberger and Malkmus is a glorious gift from their booking and management teams. Get your tickets here.

Eleanor Friedberger’s Rebound–out now on Frenchkiss Records—is a deeply introspective album; one where Friedberger’s independence can be felt in the freely moving and melded work. Unconfined yet distinct, the mostly self-recorded album—the third in her solo series, following their time in Fiery Furnaces—is both moving and melancholic. The layers of hazy synthesizers and cold staccato of a drum machine make a bed for Friedberger’s chasmic vocals to lay upon comfortably.

Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus will be playing without his Jicks in support of his most recent record, Groove Denied, out now on Matador Records. On a record that places Malkmus the furthest he’s ventured away from his wheelhouse of guitar-rock, his voice still comes across just as confident and realized with his ever-present vague lyricism. There is a certain element of self-discovery, as Malkmus states that ‘these are [his] imaginary notes.”

Yet, while the majority of the record revolves around the probing and prodding of style, pushing the edge away from himself, Malkmus returns to guitar-driven songs about half-way through the record. “Grown Nothing” seems almost Bowie-esque in its mature wistfulness. As Malkmus sings about “trying to get back to you,” it is easy to imagine he’s speaking to a younger self.

While some fans may have been surprised by the sharp nostalgic return to synth-pop, Friedberger and Malkmus may be a part of a greater trend that also included the likes of Sharon Van Etten’s Remind Me Tomorrow and Helado Negro’s This is How You Smile. (Hell, I’ll even add in the Stranger Things theme song.) Whatever cosmic or astrological phenomenon is causing this sonic retrograde, I’m here for it. I’m just hoping you’re here for this show because it’s going to be so so good.

By Ava Mirzadegan, No Boys Allowed

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