Flutes and delicately strummed guitars open the ex-Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus’ third solo album.

Those familiar with his substantial discography, or even just the ’90s hit Cut Your Hair will know this is a marked departure from Malkmus’ signature sound. Now, observations on life are much less pointed, with Malkmus mellowing both musically and lyrically. Performed on a 12-string guitar, expansive instrumental breakdowns allow for some glorious moments, with minimal percussion setting a relaxed pace. Coupled with a restrained delivery, Malkmus officially heralds in a new phase of his impressive career. It’s time to throw out the flannel shirts and trade them for a kaftan, Stephen Malkmus has gone folk.

Traditional Techniques by Stephen Malkmus is out March 6 via Matador.

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