No one is going to be surprised by Stephen Malkmus at this point. It's OK. They're still going to love him.
His solo career, including his records with The Jicks, has been consistently good and consistently...consistent. Give it a spin and you know you're getting interesting but mostly unoffensive and fun indie rock. It's the little oddities popping up everywhere that keep you hooked. You're treated to horn lines, psych-rock organs, detours into jam land and bizarre time signature changes. “Houston Hades” lingers on some dopey doo-doo-doo-ing and is basically talk-sung. Then there's the one-off lines that make you do a mental double take and smile: “I've been tripping my face off since breakfast,” or “If you choose to copulate, you better get home fast.” Or there's “The Janitor Revealed,” which could be a Pavement song.
Even though Malkmus has made more music outside of Pavement, it's somehow still hard to completely remove the context of the heyday of ‘90s indie rock. He must know it. There's a line in “Rumble At The Rainbo”: “Can you remember the thrill and the rush? You're not out of touch. Come tonight you'll see. No one here has changed and no one ever will.” The whole song is a joke about “slam dancing with some ancient dudes” in an old punk club.
Malkmus being in on the joke makes it much, much easier to get into Wig Out At Jagbags. He knows nothing is changing -- for him, anyway -- and recognizing it lets him and us just have fun with it. This record isn't doing anything new for the aging genre, but it's still great.
Also, Wig Out At Jagbags is a ridiculous and fantastic title.