Quarantine the Past:The Best of Pavement
published: 7 /
Fine compilation from the influential Pavement, which provides a wonderful taster for the reformed group's forthcoming ATP and summer shows
Pavement are undergoing something of a renaissance since announcing their reformation for a number of shows this year, including a stint as curators of the ATP festival in May. It is as a result of this revival that the band’s record labels, Domino and Matador, have put out ‘Quarantine the Past’, a best of compilation that doesn’t always stick to the ‘greatest hits’ formula, featuring some of the singles, some album tracks, and some of the scratchier early tracks and rarities recently unearthed for the deluxe reissues of the band’s five studio albums.
I am and probably always will be a massive Pavement fan, so this will undoubtedly receive a good review. By that same token, however, there are many tracks from Pavement’s back catalogue that seem like glaring omissions. There is no ‘Carrot Rope’, no ‘Father to a Sister of Thought’, no ‘Rattled by the Rush’, no ‘We Dance’, no ‘Major Leagues’, no ‘Silence Kit’ or ‘Stop Breathin’, no ‘Loretta’s Scars’ – fans could list missing tracks forever. The songs that have made it, however, would give any curious listener a fairly strong overview of the band’s 10+ year career.
Opening with one of the band’s most immediate and best-known songs, ‘Gold Soundz’ (from which the album’s title is extracted), ‘Quarantine…’ quickly takes a left-turn with ‘Frontwards’ from the ‘Watery, Domestic’ EP and early half-track ‘Mellow Jazz Docent’, which can be found on ‘Westing (by Musket and Sextant)’. Scratchy but tuneful, they will either cement new listeners’ fandom or have them reaching for the skip (or worse; the stop) button. But this combination of singles and offbeat tracks persists until the final track, and is worth sticking with.
Single ‘Stereo’, another ‘hit’, from ‘Brighten the Corners’, is followed by two ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ album tracks, the stand out ‘In the Mouth a Desert’ and the short, silly, Fall –inspired ‘Two States’. The middle of the album, spanning from MTV anthem ‘Cut Your Hair’ to ‘Range Life’ (both from ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’) is a large chunk of accessible songs, with ‘Shady Lane/J Vs S’, ‘Here’, ‘Unfair’ and ‘Grounded’ all in quick succession. The jangling Scott Kannberg track ‘Date w/IKEA’ is a welcome addition, followed by ‘Westing…’/early EP track ‘Debris Slide’ and the brilliant ‘Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)’ from ‘Watery, Domestic’.
The sublime sort of love song ‘Spit on a Stranger’ is thankfully present, the only track from ‘Terror Twilight’ to make it onto the album. It would have been nice to have more from that album, which featured some of the band’s best songs, though it is possible that, considering the band broke up during the tour for this album, that it dredges up some unhappy memories. Either way, here’s hoping the band don’t shy away from playing ‘Terror Twilight’ songs at their live shows later in the year.
It is pleasing to hear ‘Box Elder’, one of the band’s best pre-‘Slanted…’ tracks, towards the end of the album. Fan favourite, the REM tribute ‘Unseen Power of the Picket Fence’, is the penultimate track, before the album ends on ‘Fight This Generation’, a stand-out track from ‘Wowee Zowee’, and a fitting end to the album.
There’s nothing here that fans won’t have heard already, but ‘Quarantine the Past’ is a great taster for the uninitiated, and definitely builds up the excitement levels for Pavement’s Summer shows.
Mellow Jazz Docent
In The Mouth A Desert
Cut Your Hair
Shady Lane / J Vs. S
Summer Babe (Winter Version)
Shoot The Singer (1 Sick Verse)
Spit On A Stranger
Heaven Is A Truck
Trigger Cut / Wounded-Kite At :17
Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence
Fight This Generation