Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Certain Songs #1493: Pavement – “Grave Architecture” | Medialoper

Album: Wowee Zowee
Year: 1995

It takes a lot

Yet another Wowee Zowee song with a weird structure and cryptic lyrics — which start with a disarmingly friendly Stephen Malkmus asking us to “come on in –“Grave Architecture” ended up grabbing me for a pretty weird reason, even for me: the rhythm guitar on the choruses (I guess) reminded me of some the mid-1960s Rolling Stones produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, circa The Rolling Stones Now!, Out of Our Heads or Aftermath

Or at least that’s what I always thought. Just now, though, going through those records looking for concrete examples, I could only dig up a few — “Hitch Hike,” “Down Home Girl” and “Under My Thumb” that have the blocky, staccato guitars that Scott Kanneberg plays while Malkmus sings:

Graaaaaaaaaave architecture
Graaaaaaaaaave architecture

Arguably, those rhythm guitars are probably the least interesting thing about the song, but they were part of what grabbed me, even more than a lyric that seems to want to play around with the double meaning of the title.

Walk the marble malls
The monuments to those who fall
And it’s a pocket lesson narco shelve it
Strip the crypt and the others erupt
And the hood so rad and I’m fucking glad
Glad to see that I know what it means
It takes a lot

And to be honest, the most interesting thing about “Grave Architecture,” the thing that kept me there after I came on in, was all of the other guitars. Halfway through each verse, Malkmus sets his guitar to screech and Kanneberg counterpoints, and after the second verse, it’s pretty much all guitar jam.

First there’s a good old-fashioned ravearound, Steve West ramping up for a few spins around his kit while both Malkmus and Kanneberg get ever more unhinged. There are some vocals going on during all of this, but they’re so buried in the mix that you’re not really listening to them.

After that, the song quiets down for a bit while Malkmus at first meanders around for a bit, finds yet another cool riff that literally could have powered another entire song, decides nah, and then he and Kanneberg spin a few more cool guitar noises around each other and eventually “Grave Architecture” ends.

“Grave Architecture”

“Grave Architecture” live in Cologne, 1995

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