My iPod #219: Pavement – Cream of Gold

I am going to say something that will irk a lot of Pavement fans. But “Terror Twilight” is my favourite Pavement album. I said it, what.

The record gets a lot of scepticism by the majority of Pavement fans for many reasons. Reasons that I would try to list here, but would end up typing them very vaguely so you probably won’t understand. Basically this is the band’s last album, made at a time when relationships within the band were deteriorating. I think a lot of people sense that from the album’s sound. Stephen Malkmus’ vocals sound quite lacklustre and lack conviction, there wasn’t an “Unfair” or a “Two States” type song on there. In fact the writer of the latter, Scott Kannberg the guitarist and other songwriter in the band, didn’t get one song on this album. He had at least one song on the previous four albums. Thing’s weren’t looking good. Would Pavement split up? Their split later in 1999 answered that question.

Despite all that, I simply adore this album. It has such an airy, dream-like atmosphere about it. No doubt that is due to the production of one Nigel Godrich, who you may or may not know as the producer of most of Radiohead’s albums. Nothing sounds rough; all the songs are very soothing and pleasing to the ear. Yes Malkmus wrote all the songs, the songs sound too polished, Malkmus sounds bored but you know…. GET OUT OF HERE. I DON’T CARE. “Terror Twilight” forever.

That’s my album review. Now for the song.

So, “Cream of Gold” is the fourth song on “Terror Twilight”. It did take a while for me to eventually like this song enough to put it on my iPod. I didn’t just put it on there because “You Are the Light” segues into it when you listen to the album. I did grow to appreciate the song for its coolness.

I have no clue what the song is about. The lyrics are very abstract. Even the song title is just a longer way of saying “Beige”, which I only figured out a few weeks ago. I think it’s about some sort of bad relationship of a couple, and the narrator knew from the start but he still suffers through it.

Musically, it’s very gloomy. It rocks, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t some emo, goth type song or whatever. The songs starts to play when you’re outside, it’s really dark and you beginning to worry about your own safety. That happened to me some time ago when I was walking back to my house….. But the track just suits that type of atmosphere. It has quite a threatening tone to it.

The guitar tuning is not the ‘standard’, which Pavement were known to do for many songs from their albums. After two verses, two choruses and a few repeats of the last line of the chorus, Malkmus busts out a solo and repeats a phrase about six times before the track falls apart with some feedback. Not in a bad way to end. Good stuff.

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Author: Jamie Kyei Manteaw

An English student at Coventry University who spends most days listening to music (old and new) and reading and writing about it, however informal it may be. And studying too, obviously.

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