Kiwi Jr.: Football Money (2020)
In the decades since Pavement dissolved, a number of bands have been hailed as worthy successors, but Kiwi Jr. is probably the first that really fits in the slot. The lineage from Malkmus seems pretty clear, though don't let this detract from the originality of the band, which tethers clever lyrics demanding lyric sheets to off-kilter post-90s indie rock that is equal parst oddball chord progressions and engaging R.E.M. jangle. The album also liberally borrows from the skewed garage rock of New Zealand bands like the Clean and the Verlaines.
I'll note that this wasn't all infectious on first listen; I previewed a copy and thought it was mostly just pretty good. But one listen in the car, windows down and volume up, and my jaw was on the floor. So give it a chance.
A few tunes are insanely great right out of the gate. "Leslie" is an insistent anthem that calls to mind Blur in the call-and-response vocals; "Gimme More" has another round of anthemic retro-sounding power pop shout-outs from the band, with a simple two-chord barreling riff (and makes the Pavement vibe more direct with a bit of a lift from "Box Elder"). "Football Money" is at first glance Weezer-ish alt.rock, but keeps darting out in weird directions lyrically and musically, Young Fresh Fellows-styled playfulness; "Nothing Changes" is a bit more pop, but again sent askew by the healthy shot of unpredictability; "Swimming Pool" calls to mind the jangly college radio guitar rock of the 80s.
But even the more slow-burning and eccentric stuff, like jangly opener "Murder in the Cathedral" and Malkmus-by-way-of-the-Clean "Salary Man," is incredibly winning. (Only the weird dirge "Soft Water Apple" in the album's center merits skipping, and it's barely a minute long.)
Anyway, run don't walk over to Bandcamp and get yourself a copy.
Here's the video for "Leslie":