I don't think it'd be particularly unfair of me to say that we know what to expect from Stephen Malkmus these days. His last full-length, 2011's Mirror Traffic, was a little more direct, sure, a little pithier, but it was otherwise business as usual for the Jicks, whose leader presumably feels that since he's more or less perfected his signature blend of guitar noodling and abstruse lyricism, it's perhaps best to leave alone what doesn't need fixing.

Close Malkmus followers, though, will have noticed a couple of possible indicators that his next record might break with form; first, he uprooted his family in order to move from Portland to Berlin shortly before Mirror Traffic dropped, and his latest release, on last year's Record Store Day, was his own take on Can's Ege Bamyasi, which was as close to a career left turn as he'd taken for quite some time.

Gloriously uncommercial title aside, though, Wig Out at Jagbags serves as proof that Jicks records sound pretty similar regardless of which side of the Atlantic their frontman penned them on. Whether or not Malkmus has ever had the inclination to write more Pavement material since the turn of the century, the 'slacker' tag so often applied to his former band's sound has remained with him into his Jicks days; you wonder whether the effortless feel of his approach to melody - that he's again achieved on Jagbags - has something to do with that.

You kind of get the impression that Malkmus could pick his way through the Van Halen back catalogue and make it sound breezy; the overlapping lines on opener 'Planetary Motion' indicate that it's a torch that this record continues to carry. The woozy solo on 'Independence Street' and the funk-tinged climactic breakdown on 'Cinnamon & Lesbians' are further cases in point - as far as the guitar's concerned, Malkmus is a master of pulling off intricacies smoothly.

His eccentric approach to his songwriting, though, means that Jagbags runs into some of the same problems that previous Jicks records have faced; his nonsensical lyrical style, which veers between the sublime and the ridiculous at breakneck pace, is certainly an acquired taste, and his penchant for stylistic variation, as always, throws up the odd miss to go with the hits. 'J Smoov' is perhaps the album's standout, a sedate affair that's transformed from what would otherwise be an unremarkable effort by the brilliant inclusion of jazzy, Armstrong-esque trumpet, but 'Chartjunk's jaunty backing, both brass and vocal, sounded far less jarring on whichever Belle & Sebastian track it was lifted from. The album's two sub-two minute cuts, 'Rumble at the Rainbo' and 'Scattegories', both sound like undeveloped kernels than the punchy pop songs that their runtimes hint at.

Malkmus' name is now pretty much a byword for indie rock reliability; given that his approach is relatively unusual, that's by no means a bad thing. He remains an engaging live performer - it's easy, even with his records fresh in your mind, to forget just how well he knows his way around a guitar until you see him up on stage - and whilst the chances of him throwing us a curveball any time soon seem pretty slim, Jicks releases are infrequent enough that you should have little difficulty enjoying them for what they are when they do come around.