Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks announce new album 'Sparkle Hard'
26th March 2018
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks’ new album Sparkle Hard will be released on May 18th via Domino Records.
In February, the band shared its twangy single ‘Middle America,’ the first new music to surface from the group since 2014. As a follow up, the band today shares another taste of the new album with the song, ‘Shiggy,’ an insanely gleeful, old-school four-chord stomper.
Modesty and plain good manners might prevent them from saying so themselves, but the fact that Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have thrived, rather than simply endured over 17 years and delivered six albums of buzzy, sub-cultural significance, constitutes an impressive legacy. The challenge with album number seven is one that any successful band with integrity faces: how to safeguard that legacy and hold on to their identity without rehashing old ground (unthinkable), and also say something meaningful while (crucially) having fun doing it?
Meeting that issue head on in the run up to The Jicks’ seventh record involved some “navel gazing”, according to singer, songwriter, and guitarist Malkmus and not only in terms of what it means to be releasing music in 2018. If, like him, you’re a voracious consumer of all kinds of culture and feel the need to interact with it, rather than just react, then inevitably “there’s a world that prompts you to put your best foot forward”. With Sparkle Hard Malkmus, Mike Clark (keyboards), Joanna Bolme (bass) and Jake Morris (drums) do exactly that. And they hit the ground running – on air treads.
It’s light ’n’ breezy, head-down heavy, audacious, melancholic and reflective, goodtime and bodacious, and it pulls off the smartest trick: it’s both unmistakeably The Jicks and – due to the streamlining of their trademark tics and turns, plus the introduction of some unexpected flourishes (Auto-Tune, a fiddle, guest vocalist Kim Gordon, one seven-minute song with an acoustic folk intro) – The Jicks refashioned. If 2014’s Wig Out At Jag Bags balanced the lengthy prog workouts of Pig Lib with Mirror Traffic’s sparky pop moments, then Sparkle Hard bears less obvious direct relation to what’s come before. It also has turbocharged energy and enthusiasm by the truckload.
Malkmus started writing Sparkle Hard in 2015. He’d upgraded his home-recording equipment and bought some electronic drums and had been working on the Netflix series Flaked (he penned the incidental music and the end theme song). Demos were done in one day in April of 2017 and then in May, The Jicks started recording at a new studio in Portland called Halfling, which is managed by multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk of The Decemberists, who produced the album.
Self-indulgent escapism has never been The Jicks’ bag, but on Sparkle Hard, the reality of modern life sits closer to the surface, communication cutting to the chase whether it’s a proto-punk grind or a back-porch country duet doing the talking. A cleaner burn for dark and complex times.
Sparkle Hard is available to pre-order on LP (heavyweight vinyl with insert), indie-exclusive deluxe LP (heavyweight coloured vinyl with insert), Dom Mart-exclusive deluxe LP (heavyweight coloured vinyl, insert and 12x12” sticker sheet with 12 individual die cut designs for each of the songs on the album by the creative genius Turbo Island), CD and digital.
1. Cast Off
2. Future Suite
3. Solid Silk
4. Bike Lane
5. Middle America
11. Difficulties / Let Them Eat Vowels
UK & European Tour Dates:
Wed 17th October – Albert Hall, Manchester Tickets
Thurs 18th October – SWG3, Glasgow Tickets
Fri 19th October – Vicar Street, Dublin Tickets
Sun 21st October – SWX, Bristol Tickets
Mon 22nd October – The Asylum, Birmingham Tickets
Wed 24th October – Hackney Arts Centre, London Tickets
Thurs 25th October – Concorde 2, Brighton Tickets
Mon 29th October – Lido, Berlin Tickets
Tues 30th October – Stadtgarten, Cologne Tickets
Wed 31st October – Melkweg, Amsterdam Tickets
On sale Wed 28th March at 9am