90 songs of my Nineties Youth : Pavement – Cut Your Hair

To catch up on what 90 songs of my Nineties youth is all about, read my intro to this series. This week, Pavement’s Cut Your Hair.

The Song

Pavement were never one of my absolute favourite bands as a teenager. I loved Britpop and I loved the grungier US bands like Hole and The Smashing Pumpkins. Pavement sat in neither category, theirs being a more shambolic, lo-fi sound. However, I couldn’t help but notice ‘Cut Your Hair’ with it’s eminently hummable, supremely catchy chorus (which contained no actual words) and stream of consciousness lyrics.  It was if not their absolute best song, certainly their most instant, and the closest they came to a hit. It’s always the first Pavement song that springs to my mind when I think of the era.

Does it still sound good today?
Better even than it did at the time in fact. Over the years my tastes in music have changed. I started to prefer bands who were a little less polished, looser, and with wittier or more abstract lyrics. Bands like Pavement, essentially. This makes ‘Cut Your Hair’ one of those rare records that sounds better in the here and now than in my memories.

What happened next?Pavement released another 3 albums following Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain from which ‘Cut Your Hair’ was taken. Each had some great songs (such as Stereo, below) and was moderately successful, but gradually the band fell apart, singer Stephen Malkmus feeling the strain of band life particular badly. They split in November 1999, their career almost perfectly spanning the 1990s.

However, they turned out to be one of those bands whose popularity only grew after they split (see also Pixies, Sleater-Kinney), and in 2010 they reformed to great acclaim and success. Unlike other reformed bands though, it seems to have been a one-off, with no new material and just a short-tour and a few festivals. Wouldn’t bet against it happening again in 2020 though. Having never seen them live, I certainly hope so.


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