‘Slanted and Enchanted’ – A Look Back on Pavement’s Indie-Rock Landmark
Before Pavement’s debut album, ‘Slanted and Enchanted,’ came out on April 20, 1992, the band had already released a handful of EPs and a single. Nobody paid much attention to 1989’s ‘Slay Tracks (1933-1969),’ but the two follow-up EPs – 1990’s ‘Demolition Plot J-7’ and 1991’s ‘Perfect Sound Forever’ – had built enough buzz that anticipation for ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ was mounting months before it was released.
And it’s easy to hear why. Nirvana opened modern-rock radio to a whole bunch of new sounds in late 1991, when ‘Nevermind’ hit shelves. But fractured art-punk, straddling the line between noise rock and college rock, wasn’t well represented, for obvious reasons. Pavement, who injected the music with ‘70s classic-rock muscle as well as some traditional pop moves, led this faction.
From the opening ‘Summer Babe,’ reworked from a 1991 single, to the slicing ‘Trigger Cut / Wounded Kite at :17’ to the closing ‘Our Singer,’ ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ immediately sounds like a pivotal record from the era. The words don’t make much sense, and the music often comes off like jagged pieces of various puzzles tossed together in a box that’s then thrown up in the air and collected by monkeys based on the pieces’ shapes and sizes.
But what a glorious mess of words and music. ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ didn’t chart – not too surprising given its outré reputation at the time. But it’s sold close to 200,000 copies since its release. A 2002 reissue of the album includes tons of outtakes, live cuts and the ‘Watery, Domestic’ EP that came out later in the year. It expands ‘Slanted and Enchanted’’s reputation, offering a weightier perspective to the ‘90s’ indie rock milestone. That reputation continues to grow.
Listen to Pavement’s ‘Summer Babe (Winter Version)’