TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Lariat” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

This week, writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our individual best-album lists.

I contend that Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks is one of those bands, like the Strokes, that manages to have one amazing song—and possibly only one amazing song—on every album. On Wig Out at Jagbags, that song is “Lariat.”

“Lariat” might even be better than most of the other album highlights in that it actually seems to be about something. (I love “Gardenia,” but I still swear that it’s just a string a disparate commonly used expressions, like “curb appeal” or “damning with faint praise.”) Even better: That something is music.

I like hearing about Malkmus’ “Mudhoney summer” or living on the Grateful Dead. I might not agree with his assertion that the ’80s was the golden age of music, but I’m pretty sure the statement “we grew up listening to the music from the best decade ever” is something that all music fans have said at some point in their lives. For me, it was the ’90s—the decade of Pavement—which I admit doesn’t have the same ring to it or double meaning as the ’80s/ADDs, but thinking about the music of that era puts me in the same mood that “Lariat” does.

And yes, Malkmus. People do look great when they shave.