Friday, February 13, 2009

Painted Soldiers

If Spiral Stairs, aka Scott Kannberg, had written this post-Pavement, one could easily make the argument that the song's about Stephen Malkmus. It's no secret that Malkmus ruled the roost when he fronted Pavement. SM dominated the songwriting duties throughout the catalog. Kannberg, the other songwriter in Pavement, was relegated to the occasional track and soundtrack submission.

The opening line explains Kannberg's place in the band perfectly: "That's all you're singing now?" Spiral Stairs contributed very little to the Pavement oeuvre, but as this song demonstrates, it wasn't due to his inability to write a good song.

From there, you get the feeling that the song is a tongue-in-cheek jab at SM and his perceived ego. Kannberg wonders aloud why "he" has to be so mean and hurtful. Then, he takes his own shot at the antagonist: "I knew he liked to talk about himself/but he wanted the whole world to know./It made me sick inside/I just gotta hold back."

However good "Painted Soldiers" is or where it ranks on your all-time best Pavement tracks list, it is hard to deny its eerie resemblance to several of SM's best songs. The woohoo-hoos alone remind me of "Cut Your Hair" and the dead-pan delivery is quintessential SM.

The video is classic. Kannberg fires the rest of the band and inserts Veruca Salt as the new Pavement. Highlights of the video include: Nasty at the horse track, Mark Ibold as a pimp, Steve West at home with his 10+ children, and SM in his Mustang with built-in fax machine.