SUNDAY

Whether you’re talking about his work with Pavement or the Jicks, there are only two kinds of Stephen Malkmus records—unfortunately, nobody seems to agree on what they are. Anyway, Pig Lib is the second kind. (Group it with all the albums you don’t mind buying to get to the treasured few that make it feel—almost—like the first time.) If Malkmus’ self-titled solo debut found him genuinely inspired, unburdened by the group (never quite a band) that made his name and nearly wrecked it once his pals got lazy, the follow-up returns to the calculated play that has always made him appear to be digging in on the turns when he’s just coasting with his feet up on the handlebars. “Water and a Seat” kicks the disc off in 10/4 time, as much, I suspect, for the submerged CB-radio pun as for rhythmic hiccup that stretches the intro out of triple meter. But we’ve come to expect such games from Malkmus, a snap-to-grid bricoleur whose every disjunctive time-shift and dog-legged line seems to be deployed with the self-satisfaction of a Scrabble champ who’s figured out another approach to the triple word score he knows he’s entitled to. Because Malkmus’ fingers have never been as nimble as his mind, live performance can throw him off guard to the point that even the lesser lights of his catalog can shine—or shatter. Both tighter and more subordinate than Pavement, the Jicks (drummer John Moen, bassist Joanna Bolme, and keyboardist/second guitarist Mike Clark) should favor flying over flailing. They play with Dead Meadow at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 11, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $15. (202) 393-0930. (Glenn Dixon)