Greetings from Pavement week here in New York City—when music writers everywhere are treating the reunion package with far more enthusiasm than the shrugs Pavement themselves seem to be giving from the stage. It legitimately feels like we’ve traveled back in time: Malkmus and the greatest band of the 1990s is once again on stage belting out the greatest song of the 1990s to crowds far bigger than those who actually cared during the 1990s. Superchunk is selling out shows. Weezer is taking a break from making preposterous album covers and touring off Pinkerton. Don’t need to elaborate on any of that—do a Google search and you’ll find plenty of exposition—but I do, in fact, fully welcome the way the 1990s felt.
It’s not so much for the reasons everyone else seems to be touting. For one, the album that’s quickly making our way to the top of my year-end list, Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest (which is streaming on NPR until its September 28 release), feels more openly nostalgic for 1990-something than any of the aforementioned bands who were were actually making music in 1990-something.
This would seem literally true based on a statement Deerhunter mastermind and charming weirdo Bradford Cox made in response to a Facebook question. He said the title is a reference to “fond memories and even invented ones,” in terms of “the way that we write and rewrite and edit our memories to be a digest version of what we want to remember, and how that’s kind of sad.” This comes through on the record largely in the sense that it is the most straightforward record he’s made to date. Where Cox before seemed vague or symbolic, he now seems direct and often soul-bearing on Halcyon. Where he once would have used a feedback-covered anecdotal line or gray statement to express a fear of aging, he now simply states, “I don’t wanna get old.”