5. Brighten The Corners (1997): After the wigged-out alt-grandiosity of Wowee Zowee, a comedown could be, if not guaranteed, then expected. The bass-led "Stereo" brings back the spirit of '94 (and perhaps '91) with a quiet-loud-quiet shaggy-dog story that explodes with the best chorus this notoriously refrain-challenged band ever wrote. From there, though, it's a largely chill affair. Malkmus's lyrical approach starts to calcify, with several rhymes ("men in dashikis and their leftist weeklies," "there's no women in Alaska / there's no coast of Nebraska") approaching self-parody. Kannberg and Malkmus turned 30 during Brighten The Corners' year of recording, and it's hard not to hear the settled sounds as a reaction to that. The former contributed two songs, each referencing a brand: the classic-rock cautionary tale "Passat Dream" and the Big Star tribute "Date With IKEA." There are still triumphs, for sure: the Televisionary twin-guitar soloing on the graceful "Type Slowly," for instance, or the gorgeous slo-mo boogie of closer "Fin," featuring one hell of a stemwinding solo. Both tracks clock in at 5+ minutes; that nearly everything else on the album sounds just as long is a bit of a problem.