• Record Label: Matador
  • Release Date: Mar 4, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 91
    The seasoned professional executes discipline on a record that seems entirely natural--layered to the top, but never giving in to excess. [Winter 2008, p.92]
  2. It's an album meant to be discovered and lived with, revealing its jokes and its beauty over time.
  3. All he [Malkmus] wants to do is surrender to the lightheaded rush of the music, and the results are downright glorious.
  4. How does it compare to his previous three records--or eight, if you count his former band? Suffice it to say that's a rhetorical question. If Joe DiMaggio made albums... well you get the point.
  5. Real Emotional Trash features lots of long songs with prog parts ripe for '70s Camaro rides, but Malkmus' apparent glee in playing them helps keep excess at bay.
  6. Even as he skewers fakery with surprising directness, the husband and father remains largely at a feline remove himself. [14 Mar 2008, p.75]
  7. The joy of listening to Malkmus's songs has always been the involvement the listener takes in separating the "truth" from the "spoof" (much like with other oddball geniuses like Robyn Hitchcock or Tom Waits). There's plenty of both here, but more importantly, there's enough interplay between the two to keep things interesting and delightful.
  8. The album is both a generous, transparent body pleasure and a flinty, oblique mind pleasure.
  9. 80
    It’s a very rare, wondrous thing: prog-rock for firesides and fuzzy-slipper Sundays.
  10. Real Emotional Trash, with its long, winding guitar solos, extended jams, and emphasis on shifting psychedelic guitar textures, is as retro an album as Malkmus has ever recorded.
  11. With Malkmus, a spade is never a spade, and his usual counterinclinations set Trash aquake with tension: pop that's coy but direct but rambling but surreal.
  12. Real Emotional Trash isn't "Slanted and Enchanted" or "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain," but hey, you can't have a perfect sound forever. Besides, there are more than enough old-school indie touches here to flash you back to the halcyon daze of '94, or give you an idea what your older sis had on her headphones.
  13. Some connect better than others, and the album feels a little front-loaded, but it's still a treat to hear Malkmus get in touch with his inner guitar hero.
  14. Real Emotional Trash is a simultaneously funny and interesting record, shaped with just the right kind of meticulous care to strengthen its band-jam aesthetics.
  15. 80
    It is, in short, a hippy record, and a very good one.
  16. 80
    Real Emotional Trash conjures a virtuoso meld of folk rock, prog and cosmic blues tropes, all filtered through the ex-pavement frontman's tradmark arch surrealism. [Apr 2008, p. 101]
  17. On Real Emotional Trash, Malkmus and the Jicks' most recent offering, they manage to bring both tendencies (to indulge in classic rock and play loose) together into a coherent whole without getting too polished or boring. [Spring 2008, p.83]
  18. Trash's capriciousness and experimental willingness are what gave Malkmus an audience in the first place--and what promise to keep it coming back for more.
  19. Polished production and an ironing out of the music’s creases creates a less-relaxed feel than we’re used to hearing, but there’s also a sense of warmth which was largely missing from the previous Jicks-aided album, "Pig Lib."
  20. For the most part, the album succeeds insofar as it either builds upon Malkmus's perennial themes or allows itself to indulge in experimentation.
  21. The Jicks do an incredible job of coming into their own as a band, channeling Malkmus’s sarcasm and foolery in a less controlled setting brilliantly; they just can’t, because of the immediacy of the album, tease out the full quirkyness.
  22. Even when the album gets really flaccid, as in the clattering breakdown of the turgid story-song 'Hopscotch Willie,' Malkmus is still annoyingly good at writing stuck-in-your-dome-piece melodies that keep you humming the tunes you don’t like just as much as the highlights
  23. With the Jicks now sharing the spotlight, sees Malkmus's familiar tangled lyricism and meandering tendencies offset by some tremendous group performances. [Mar 2008, p.57]
  24. Janet Weiss adds welcome flavor on drums and vocals, but overall, how much you enjoy rummaging through this Trash will probably depend on the amount of patience you have for the Malkmus' indulgences.
  25. Real Emotional Trash is determinedly unified, even if it isn't always clear to what ends. At its best, the record hints at opening a whole new musical world for Malkmus--one in which his well-worn style is effectively played down in the service of a mighty rock'n'roll band.
  26. 60
    Trash has its moments. [Mar 2008, p.106]
  27. If Real Emotional Trash falls short of "Pig Lib," it’s because we’re spending too much time in the tunnel, and not enough in the funnel to the tune.
  28. There is so much going on - veiled lyrics, abrupt key changes - that it would take months of patient unravelling for the 10 tracks to fully reveal themselves.
  29. Real is a beefy record that plods and dances precariously close to the jam band divider.
  30. There is just too much hit and miss on this album.
  31. Here Malkmus dispenses with the electronic curiosities that blighted his 2005 solo album Face the Truth and adopts a more polished version of the old indie-rock of soaring guitar solos and oblique lyrics.
  32. Real Emotional Trash feels like a compromise, for Malkmus and for us.
  33. Like Stephin Merritt, his East Coast cognate, Malkmus’ songwriting chops and eye for upper-middle-class detail are too-available excuses for music that is often unremarkable.
  34. Real Emotional Trash fails--beautifully and melodically, yes, but it fails nonetheless.
  35. With Real Emotional Trash, he proves he can retain both, leaving behind the controlled one-man-band environment of 2005’s Face the Truth and issuing his most eclectic and unpredictable album yet.
  36. His fourth album is another trough, low on songs and over-reliant on meandering guitar jams. [Apr 2008, p.112]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 22
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 22
  3. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Shiftybob.
    May 17, 2008
    This album blew me away. I'm a long time Pavement fan who lost a little interest after what was to me, just an ok first solo album. This album blew me away. I'm a long time Pavement fan who lost a little interest after what was to me, just an ok first solo album. After the good word of mouth on I picked up Real Emotional Trash and it hasn't left my PC/car/stereo/ipod since...So many good tracks but yes Hopscotch Willie is a 10 by itself and Janet Weiss is brilliant. Everyone I've played it around has been "What's that you're playing? It's really good!!!" I agree. Full Review »
  2. HB
    May 2, 2008
    R.E.T gets better with every successive playing. Smart lyrics match oddly tuned fuzzy guitar. The Jicks are simultaneously loose and tight.
  3. Aug 30, 2011
    one of the few albums that has not left my rotation in the past few years. malkmus is still an excellent, distinctive songwriter with a voiceone of the few albums that has not left my rotation in the past few years. malkmus is still an excellent, distinctive songwriter with a voice to match. Full Review »