The rumours are true: The “rejected” electronic album that Stephen Malkmus has been telling everyone about will see the light of day on Friday 15th March. But new album Groove Denied is not a full-blown plunge into EDM or hiptronica. In fact, there aren’t any purely instrumental tracks on the album.
Every song is precisely that: a song, featuring Malkmus staples like an artfully askew melody and an oblique lyric. Groove Denied is Stephen playing hooky from his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a comfy routine. As Malkmus commented recently, “It’s kind of funny to mess with stuff you’re not supposed to mess with.”
The first taste of Stephen’s new groove can be heard today, with first single ‘Viktor Borgia’, and its accompanying video starring Stephen alone in a dance club. The title playfully merges the name of the comedian-pianist and the ruthless dynasty of Italo-Spanish nobles. With its stately melody and the almost-English-accented vocal, the coordinates here are early Human League or even Men Without Hats.
Groove Denied is Stephen’s first solo album without his cohorts The Jicks since 2001. Made using Ableton’s Live, instead of a human-powered rhythm section, Malkmus’s arsenal further included drum machines, along with a host of plug-in FX and “soft synths.”
Groove Denied will shake up settled notions of what Malkmus is about and what he’s capable of, repositioning him in the scheme of things. But looking at it from a different angle, his engagement with state-of-art digital tech actually makes perfect sense. After all, Nineties lo-fi was nothing if not insistently sonic.
Listen / purchase ‘Viktor Borgia’: https://stephenmalkmus.lnk.to/groovedenied