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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Review: Pavement’s ‘Terror Twilight,’ Greta Van Fleet’s ‘From the Fires’ excite the senses within

Photo by Via RPM Studios

Music critic analyzes two 1999 rock albums  Pavement’s ‘Terror Twilight’ and Greta Van Fleet’s ‘From the Fires’

Many of the albums I will be reviewing for The Battalion stem from my interaction with a single song on an album I would normally shy away from but am now growing to appreciate. This feeling of discovery expands beyond a single perspective or experience, growing not just our taste but our outlooks on music and life as well. These next two albums aren’t as fragile in vulnerability as the previous two I reviewed (“Tidal” and “from the choir girl hotel”), but what they lack in melodramatic catharsis they make up in genuine unadulterated fun of unabashed sounds, i.e., playing fast and loud. 

“Terror Twilight”

Pavement’s fifth and final studio album, released in 1999, shocks its listeners with an unexpected dynamic expression that is considerately charming coming from this band. Lead singer Stephen Malkmus delivers his singing in a fashion that wouldn’t be considered groundbreakingly unique, but uncommon within the realm of music vocality. 

The album, and possibly the whole band itself, is best described as electric beige, a color not outstanding when compared to other colors but still charged with an energy that has immense potential. To call it mediocre would be both insulting and incorrect, rather having the same appeal as the music taste of your best friend’s older brother (Yes, that is oddly specific). It’s something so innovative and somewhat refreshing that you must be left with an impression of a bewildering experience. 

The production manages to scratch a certain itch of listening to something familiar yet so new. Coupled with head scratching, this coalescent off-sound texture and lyrical imagery adds to this feeling of a ‘new’ conventionally rejuvenating style. The album, overall, breaks the mold of what can and cannot be done in music, alleviating the pressure of true music having to be seen as posh and refined, just playing from the soul. 

Much of this ardor for free-flowing energy is shown in invigorating tracks like “Folk Jam” and “Platform Blues,” or in gentle tones with “Major Leagues” and “The Hexx.” With a recent reissue of the album releasing soon, I fully recommend this album to enter your music library this year. 

Outstanding Tracks: 

  • “Folk Jam” – Awkward hoedown that perfectly encapsulates the band’s aesthetic; satirical and slightly emotional, like a joke you can’t laugh at but still end up smiling. 

  • “Major Leagues” – Like a hand caressing your head, something about Malkmus’ voice makes the song feel like a one-sided direct conversation that feels so sensual. I want to date this song. 

  • “Speak, See, Remember” – A folk song that although starts off slow, develops with more energy that keeps you on your toes, ending in a sporadic flurry that makes you want to replay the song. 

  • “…And Carrot Rope” – A perfect ending, like a song for an end credits sequence, charismatic as a subtle smile. Simply enjoyable, nothing deep and superficially amusing in all the right ways. 

“From the Fires”

Greta Van Fleet’s debut album echoes back to the glory days of ‘70s rock music in an era of desensitized music industry plants. Not just a rewash, rather a revamp of Led Zeppelin, the album itself is sensational. The whole album, released in 2017, is best described as a raging tempest, which can alter from violent cyclones of frenzy to adamant raging floods of emotion. 

What really makes this piece an experience is lead singer Josh Kiszka’s fetching and capricious vocals. Homonymous to Robert Plant’s singing style, almost to an exaggerated extent, Greta Van Fleet accomplishes to recapture, not imitate, Led Zeppelin’s iconicity. Even without comparison, Kiszka’s voice is evocative and just crazy, it’s a voice you do not want to ignore. 

The band is heart thumping, foot stomping and heat raising with its coquettish lyricism that fits so well within the aesthetic of the album. The production itself is remarkable and bolsters the energy it wants to elicit from you, not to mention the immaculate guitar solos strewn across the album. 

Tracks such as “Highway Tune” and “Safari Song” are a perfect fit to get in touch with your wild side, while the dramatic tracks of “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Flower Power” are soul touching just by the way they sound alone. Even if I were to be hypercritical of Led Zeppelin’s “imitation,” I undeniably enjoyed this project, and highly recommend readers to give this engine revving album a shot. 

Outstanding Tracks:

  • “Flower Power” – An enjoyable rock ballad that is very reminiscent of ‘70s root and psychedelic rock, featuring a banjo and a fervid bass line. 

  • “A Change is Gonna Come” – Heavily leaning toward the rock opera genre, with a glamourising choir and a heavenly organ that elevates the senses.

  • “Highway Tune” – The lead breakout song that is kinesthetic in every rite, containing just pure energy and strife that makes you want to seemingly explode into speed itself.

  • “Talk on the Street” – Comprises spine-tingling chord progressions that send shivers down your back, with noteworthy verses and a killer guitar solo ending.

We tend to judge music for what it stands for rather than what it is, regardless if it’s a boring song with a heartfelt message or a banger with trivial lyrics. Rather than listening, just hearing a song can produce a reaction that is generally pleasant. These two albums have shown me that not everything has to be in between the lines or be a small compartment of a grander being, that liking the superficiality of loud and fast music is just as entertaining as meticulously deciphering the details of a puzzling enigma. Don’t be so conscientious about what you should be holding back — just be.

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