Mirror Traffic - Stephen Malkmus
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Mirror Traffic, Malkmus's fifth post-Pavement album, is proof that the singer, now 45, hasn't lost an ounce of what made him an iconic figure in the '90s.
  2. Aug 23, 2011
    90
    For as relaxed as Mirror Traffic is, there is real structure to the songs and clarity to the production, two things that turn it into Malkmus' most satisfying solo album to date.
  3. Aug 19, 2011
    70
    Mirror Traffic will neither win nor lose converts. [Sep 2011, p.112]
  4. 80
    The new Jicks album benefits from Beck's imaginative treatment, which foregrounds headphone moments while not stinting on pure, spontaneous rock goodness, and Malkmus's songwriting, which sounds inspired and confident.
  5. Aug 18, 2011
    80
    To call it a career highlight would be a little excitable, but Mirror Traffic feels like one of those records that'll tempt fair-weather fans back to the Malkmus name. Which is probably a happy thing for all concerned.
  6. The album takes many of Malkmus' favorite indie and classic rock influences and creates something fresh and dazzling.
  7. Aug 23, 2011
    70
    He doesn't escape middle-aged insularity; he just makes it fun.
  8. Aug 24, 2011
    75
    He may mock his lack of motivation and energy, but on Mirror Traffic, Malkmus sounds more focused than he has in years.
  9. Aug 18, 2011
    60
    Malkmus' third (or fourth depending on which folklore you believe) outing with The Jicks, is a disappointing collection of hits and misses--with the latter winning on points.
  10. Aug 29, 2011
    78
    Musically, Mirror Traffic flows lazily, songs streaming into one other. Like an engrossing 3 AM conversation lasting until daylight, it's too immersive to give notice to the passage of time, but once it's over it's difficult to recall in detail, some heady dream.
  11. 80
    An album that captures one of indie rock's longstanding heroes still at the top of his game.
  12. 80
    Malkmus, along with producer Beck, direct the music on Mirror Traffic with playful lyrics and flourishing styles that versatile and extended enough, shine with ease.
  13. Aug 18, 2011
    80
    This is a fruitful and distinctive addition to Malkmus' oeuvre, not least thanks to Beck who also produced Thurston Moore's latest outing with a similarly sensitive finesse.
  14. Aug 23, 2011
    80
    Mirror Traffic arrests those indulgences and presents Pavement fans the best opportunity yet to stop worrying and love The Jicks.
  15. 83
    The slacker king has traded paisley-print guitar freak-outs for faster, breezier pop songs.
  16. Aug 23, 2011
    70
    A sloppy and inebriated brand of psych-rock still serves as an ideal backdrop to S.M.'s hilariously irreverent storytelling-half silly, half serious and often poignant. This musical recipe really never gets old.
  17. Aug 23, 2011
    88
    Traffic is a handy metaphor for the album; it's a gorgeously orchestrated mess.
  18. Aug 26, 2011
    80
    Everything you could want from a wizard, a true non-star. [Sept. 2011, p. 100]
  19. Aug 23, 2011
    80
    As ever, there's a jamming seam throughout the Malkmus landscape, with the likes of Brian Gallop descending (or ascending, more appropriately) into freeform guitar passages that, while inevitably slightly indulgent, are never less than engaging, tuneful and, above all, enjoyable.
  20. 70
    Eschewing the slacker blueprint he practically invented for off-kilter pop tracks, Malkmus has shown that he's not defined by his past.
  21. Aug 24, 2011
    80
    With the satisfyingly realized and solid Mirror Traffic, Malkmus is at the top of his game, both as a consistent songwriter and guitarist, continuing the upwardly mobile trajectory of an enduring and golden indie-rock solo career in it's second decade, playing and singing better than ever.
  22. Sep 6, 2011
    60
    Casually clever lyrics, gloriously fuzzy guitar leads and that immediately identifiable off-kilter pop genius dominate.
  23. Aug 22, 2011
    78
    There is a lot of variety--a lot of music, really--here, and with 15 tracks that top out at just north of the 50-minute mark, it's a lot to take in.
  24. Aug 22, 2011
    77
    Mirror Traffic tickles that nostalgia without sacrificing maturity, discovering that "playfully relaxed" is a valid third route between "slacker" and "manic."
  25. Aug 23, 2011
    80
    It's precisely because Malkmus knows what sets him apart that Mirror Traffic is not simply a heartening, satisfying nod back to the glory days that made him who he is as an artist, but a reflection of what's possible for him going forward.
  26. Aug 22, 2011
    80
    Stephen Malkmus is back with Mirror Traffic, in a way he wasn't with the Pavement reunion, which is to say in a way that reaches past nostalgia and easy money and is based in great music built to last.
  27. Aug 19, 2011
    80
    His production helps Malkmus's fifth post-Pavement album roll buy with a supremely confident West Coast looseness. [Sep 2011, p.116]
  28. Aug 23, 2011
    70
    Malkmus shows you don't have to move to the woods and house squirrels in your beard to prove you're a sensitive male. Alterna-dad elegance will do.
  29. Aug 22, 2011
    70
    His standard of work is so smart that the stupid parts come off refreshing, and even middle-range material like Mirror Traffic feels strikingly well-crafted.
  30. Aug 18, 2011
    80
    A patient, inviting album that feels like a fresh start from a guy whose recording career spans multiple boom-and-bust cycles, both for indie rock and the economy.
  31. Aug 23, 2011
    67
    The major advantage that Mirror Traffic has over its predecessors-beyond the swifter tempos and fuller sound-is that it's longer, which means that even though its percentage of keepers is about the same, the overall number ticks up.
  32. Aug 18, 2011
    75
    Mirror Traffic is the first time he's tried to make a Jicks-as-band record digestible.
  33. Aug 18, 2011
    80
    Dropping a couple of songs would have made it a tighter set, but Malkmus still has a terrific knack for the old slanting and enchanting.
  34. 80
    These are some of the most engaging songs he's written, with beguiling melodies wrapped around typically gnomic lyrics, and little undue instrumental indulgence.
  35. Stephen Malkmus is back making amiable but unchallenging off-kilter country rock songs.
  36. Aug 22, 2011
    60
    Gone are the meandering, proggy excesses of 2008's Real Emotional Trash, and in their place are sharper, melody-driven tracks that foreground Malkmus's distinctive oblique wit.
  37. Aug 30, 2011
    70
    Dense, professional, and thoroughly realized, Mirror Traffic will become a lot of people's favorite Malkmus album. He sounds more like Malkmus than ever, and it makes me shiver.
  38. Aug 23, 2011
    80
    It's a subtle album about an unexpected range life, full of slow talk and afterglows, the work of a confident and comforting craftsman. If this is what it means to grow old with Stephen Malkmus, faults and all, then bring it on.
  39. Aug 19, 2011
    80
    Consistently entertaining beautifully recorded, enough lyrical Malkmusing to occupy a generation of decoders, plus it rocks. [Sep 2011, p.92]
  40. Aug 19, 2011
    70
    There are a bunch of standout tracks. [Jul 2011, p.80]
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Nov 3, 2011
    9
    Originally named L.A. guns, Mirror Traffic was recorded before Malkmus went on a reunion tour with Pavement in 2010. Beck joined Malkmus in the studio as a producer to bring this album to some kind of 90â Full Review »
  2. j30
    Feb 9, 2012
    8
    Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks' "Mirror Traffic" is one of the best albums of 2011. Stephen Malkmus' lyrics are great (as always), the music is solid, and Beck is turning into one hell of a producer (See Charlotte Gainsbourg's "IRM" and Thurston Moore's "Demolished Thoughts" both excellent releases). Full Review »