Something about the resolutely oblique Pavement made you wonder if it was just the beer and cynicism doing the talking. But if you squinted just right at the band's wastrel anthems, something was being said. It was something about the absurdity of rock and roll, of suburbs or -- at Pavement's most diffuse -- of life in general, but it was definitely something. On his third solo album, former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus has given up on significance and settled into a cozy, almost British kind of eccentricity. There's no other excuse for the bored new-wave goof "Pencil Rot." Not to mention the grating vocoder workout "Kindling for the Master," for which his motives are less forgivable after this telling lyric: Give me some space to let me spin it in and out and up and through your face. As with every slanted bunch of tunes Malkmus has coughed up, there is some brittle beauty here -- notably "Freeze the Saints," possibly his tenderest tune. But maybe he should just get a job.