Pavement is a band I like. Back in college, most of my friends had conspicuous copies of Slanted and Enchanted lying around, markers of good taste and hipness. I never listened to that album - it looked kind of dumb and what little I heard didn't sound good to me - but hell, they were from my home town and my Mom even remembers Mrs. Kannberg from PTA meetings at Davis Elementary School. (Me, I don't remember Scott at all - I'm guessing he was in my brother's class or something.)
Flash forward seven or so years: it's 1997, Dan and I just bought a house in San José. Given that we didn't really own any furniture - certainly not enough for an entire house - we made a date with IKEA to furnish the entire house. The only problem of course that there was no IKEA in the Bay Area at the time: the closest IKEA was in Burbank, about six hours' drive from San José. No problem; we rented a U-Haul and schlepped it all back home. The receipt was several feet long, there was a flotilla of shopping carts snaking out into the loading area, and of course one or two things were out of stock for the next six months, leaving us with awesome dining room chairs but no actual dining room table until 1998.
Near the Burbank IKEA there are a number of LA strip mall type places. There was a CPK, a Kenny Rogers Roasters, probably a Boston Market, a CompUSA, and a Virgin Megastore, at least that I remember. I popped in to Virgin, bought a couple of overpriced, lame Pet Shop Boys singles, and saw that the new Pavement album Brighten the Corners was on sale. I figured what the heck, I kinda liked Cut Your Hair, they're from my home town, everyone says they're awesome, so I should finally give the band shot. Did I like the CD?
In short: hell yes... well, mostly.
This album contains the worst fucking song of all time. It is called Date w/ IKEA. It is not written by Stephen Malkmus. It is written by Scott Kannberg. This is why it sucks: If you're listening to a Pavement album, it is in large part enjoyable because of what it is not. It is not a Stone Temple Pearl Jam album. There are no whining, obvious "tragic" songs like Jeremy. It is also not a fucking U2 album. There are no lighter-raising, anthemic ditties á la I Will Follow. There are no fucking uplifting, life-affirming, soaring ballads. Unless of course you're talking about fucking Date w/ IKEA, which is best compared to a turd in a punchbowl.
Brighten the Corners is one of my favorite albums. If Dan and I had a song, it would probably be Blue Hawaiian or almost any song off of that album. We listened to it a lot and loved it... until that fucking song comes on. It kills the mood every time.
If Date w/ IKEA were a Beach Boys song, it would be Kokomo. If Date w/ IKEA were a Jefferson Airplane song, it would be We Built This City. If Date w/ IKEA were a Melvins album, it would be Prick. If Date w/ IKEA were a General Foods International Coffee, it would be Chai Latte. If Date w/ IKEA were a Democrat, it would be Joe Lieberman. If Date w/ IKEA were a bear, it would be James Lipton.
Look, I like Scott Kannberg. I think his Preston School of Industry stuff is pretty good. And I absolutely love his guitar playing. But this song, this song... I don't how to describe it. Everything about is wrong: anthemic guitar, soaring crescendos, early 90s "grunge" vocal delivery, earnest, overly literal lyrics with a "sad" refrain ("I want to stay but my time is wasting / I know I need to stay / I know I need to stay" - repeat for maximum lame-osity), and just a general '90s frat house grunge cover band aesthetic in general.
I fucking hate this song.
Here, listen for yourself: