Monday, November 12, 2012

Pollard’s Who-like aggression and Kinks-like whimsy

GBV's third album of 2012 is pretty damned good...

Guided by Voices
The Bears for Lunch
Guided by Voices Industries

The old school line-up of Guided by Voices – that’s Bob Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell and Kevin Fennell – started its second run only two years ago, for the Matador 21st Birthday Concert in 2010. The Bears for Lunch is the third album since this configuration’s mid-1990s break, and also the third of 2012. That’s a remarkably fast restart. Just for comparison, it took Mission of Burma five years to add three new albums to their catalogue, and Big Dipper and Gang of Four have released just one since reforming.

Of course, Pollard-related projects are, almost by definition, insanely prolific, so the real question is not how many songs the reconfigured band can record, but how good they are. The answer: pretty good, and almost surely getting better. The Bears for Lunch is a far more solid affair than Let’s Go Eat the Factory, balancing Pollard’s Who-like aggression and Kinks-like whimsy in punchy, melodically memorable songs. There are fewer throwaways and sound experiments this time. (I’d nominate “Military Dance School Dismissal” for fast-forward, but it’s the only one that springs to mind.) The band is more assured, too, crisp and almost tight by this beery outfit’s standards. Even the sound is more professional, capturing wavery harmonies and fuzzed-out guitar lines with unusual clarity.


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