What I like the most about anything Stephen Malkmus does is the way that he sings. Listening to him sing is like stopping to watch one of those tiny yellow butterflies fluttering (or rather, being fluttered by a random breeze) in crazy unpredictable loops, as if drunk and stoned, on a mid-June morning. Malkmus nearly always seems to be making up his vocal melodies on the spot, which is thrilling to hear, because he creates the illusion that the song could go anywhere, which matches up well with the ever-present surrealism in his lyrics. The opening melody of “Asking Price” is beautiful, a fine example of that drunken butterfly singing style.
How would Mirror Traffic play at a party? “Brain Gallop” is bluesy, late-summer Sunday afternoon barbeque music that lets a little bit of Malkmus’ signature weirdness accumulate just before the break. It’s a decent track to get things rolling. “Tune Grief” is the track everyone is gonna jump up and twist to once that barbeque is marinating in blended spirits. “Senator” is the one yer neighbors will call the cops on late in the evening, while everyone is singing “The Senator wants a blow job” in loud, obnoxious voices. The rest provides the mellowness needed to ease the bedspins.
That said, Mirror Traffic is alright. It’s no Jo Jo’s Jacket, and definitely no Dark Wave. It’s nearly Jicktastic, but not quite.