Release Date: Sep 16, 2008
Record label: Guided by Voices
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
After two years of treading water following the break-up of Guided by Voices, Robert Pollard finally seems to be reconnecting with his muse in a real way. Robert Pollard Is Off To Business, his first album after parting ways with Merge Records and launching his own label, was the strongest and most consistent set he's released since going solo, and four months later Pollard has returned with a new band, Boston Spaceships, featuring John Moen of the Decemberists and the Dharma Bums and Chris Slusarenko of the Takeovers and Sprinkler. Teaming up with some fresh collaborators seems to have done Pollard a world of good after recording the bulk of his post-GBV work with Todd Tobias handling all the instruments; Moen and Slusarenko don't bring a striking level of chops to Brown Submarine, Boston Spaceships' debut album, but their work has an organic feel and a natural energy that helps these sessions sound like the work of a real band, and Pollard has thankfully focused on quality rather than quantity in his songwriting, with most of these 14 tunes suggesting the vitality of GBV's peak period without sounding as if he's rewriting his old work, which was the case with too much of his work in 2006 and 2007.
Robert Pollard’s brain must be filled with millions of songs, song scraps, rough drafts, sketches of ideas, wisps of melodies, and word combinations. And in the Pollard/Guided by Voices universe, all of those are really the same thing. The more recordings he releases, the harder it is to keep track of what came from where, of what was on a “proper” album and what wasn’t, of what is a “demo” and what is an official “song”, of what was a Guided by Voices song, what was a Robert Pollard song, and what was a song by Circus Devils, Psycho & the Birds, The Takeovers, or ______ (fill in any one of a multitude of other band names).
At least two of the following mildewed factoids seem mandatory in any Robert Pollard review: “used to be a teacher,” “sings in a fake British accent,” “takes the occasional drink” and “needs an editor. ” Given the tepid reaction to some of Pollard’s recent efforts, “return to form” might be added to the lexicon of staleness when discussing the debut LP by Pollard’s latest incarnation, Boston Spaceships. (Late-period Guided By Voices bassist Chris Slusarenko on guitar and other instruments and Decemberists drummer John Moen fill out this new power trio.