I love Pavement, but since that band broke up I haven't paid too much attention to Malkmus' solo output. His first Jicks album was all right, not super (exception: "Jenny and the Ess-Dog," a yuppie-indie relationship tableau that was a nice piece of writing in spite of its "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant"-style narrative); when Pig Lib came out I got all perverse and willfully ignored all the hype and didn't even buy the record, although I secretly wanted to, and secretly held out hope that it'd be better than all right, and was afraid it'd be as tepid and uninspired as people were saying.
Over on ILX, people have been throwing around the phrase "rural prog" a lot, and especially in conjunction with Malkmus. I had heard Malkmus say, circa Terror Twilight, that he'd been going through an Incredible String Band phase, but I wasn't aware that he was (and is) also really into Mellow Candle -- kinda interesting, because within the same couple of months in early 2000 that I picked up the ISB's The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter and Changing Horses, my friend Darren sent me a tape of Mellow Candle's Swaddling Songs LP, which I've cherished ever since. So the Mellow Candle reference reignited my curiosity re the ol' Malkster -- dude has good taste.
Long story short: Pig Lib might might might be my favorite record of 2003, but it's too early to tell and I can't yet articulate my impressions other than to take the PR-bait and exclaim YAY PROGGY NOODLY PASTICHEY CANTERBURY BLABLABLA and say that this would have been the logical (and more fully realized) follow-up to the fun-but-patchy Terror Twilight. "1% of One" is the obv. standout, the centerpiece, the lengthy groovy psych-folk Fairport-meets-Yes tribute. Fine, cool, I adore this kinda nonsense; I'm there. BUT: There's a bonus EP, and ON that bonus EP is a cover of Mellow Candle's "The Poet and the Witch," and it's absolutely wonderful and incorporates the whole late-Pavement thingness into the sound so well that at first it just seemed like a bit of brilliant self-penned mannerist jokesterism (like the way "We Dance" was a totally OTM send-up of '70s-Brit-glam-via-Oasis), until I figgered out what song he was doing. Cover version of the year, yo -- he's got that locked down fer sure.