The 98 Best Songs of 1998: Pop's Weirdest Year

In 1998, boundaries blew open and new genres were invented each week. We look back at the best, brightest and weirdest from a pivotal year in pop

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31. Silver Jews, "The Wild Kindness"

"I'm perfect in an empty room," indeed. Even longtime Silver Jews fans got our juleps spilled by the greatness of American Water – David Berman's ultimate testament as a poet, crooner and prankster, the kind of genius that could only flourish in bourbon-drenched slack-ass Southern boho towns. Pavement's Stephen Malkmus plays the madcap sidekick on guitar and back-up vocals, the Ghostface to Berman's Raekwon. It's torture to pick just one highlight from such a flawless album – the universally beloved saloon ballad "Random Rules?" The ramshackle Al Green/Willie Mitchell jam "Blue Arrangements"? The stupidly titled "Like like the the the Death"? But "The Wild Kindness" makes a fittingly ceremonious finale, as Berman gets somber in his Leonard Cohen mode ("It is autumn and my camouflage is dying") and Malkmus plays that bottomlessly sad guitar solo.

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