Certain Songs #1498: Pavement – “Fin”

Album: Brighten The Corners
Year: 1997

No more absolutes

It was so subtle that I literally didn’t realize it until the morning I’m writing this, but Pavement had at least one long Stephen Malkmus guitar jam near the end of every album from Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain forward.

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain had “Fillmore Jive” closing it off, but both Wowee Zowee and Terror Twilight stuck their long jams as the penultimate tunes, the former’s “Half a Canyon” somewhat obscured by the vocal shredding screams that accompanied it, and the latter’s “The Hexx” somewhat obscured for being near the end of Terror Twilight.

That leaves “Fin,” the final track of Brighten The Corners, and probably the moment that cemented for me that Stephen Malkmus was a guitar hero in the mode of Neil Young or Tom Verlaine, which is to say my kinda guitar hero.

So “Fin” starts with a lonely slow (of course) Steve West marital drum beat and takes a hot minute to start going anywhere, even after Malkmus starts singing what is mostly nonsense lyrics, my favorite of which is “I trust you will tell me if I am making a fool of myself. All the while, though, “Fin” building slowly (of course) to its back half, with Malkmus singing “ooooohs” and “ahhhhs” while West does build after build, until he builds directly into the guitar solo.

Said solo starts out crunchy and noisy, but then starts twirling and spinning around the build, almost getting away from Malkmus for a second, then he reels it back in, and as the song fades — for a full minute — it just gets weirder and lovelier and literally all I wanted from the Brighten The Corners reissue was a full version that didn’t fade. You know, like the CD version of “Marquee Moon” or the reissue version of “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts.”

Which, of course, ain’t how Pavement rolls: shit, Malkmus didn’t even bother to reproduce the solo live, because of course he doesn’t, so my hope for a longer, even more definitive version was just a hope.


“Fin” performed live, 1999

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