Album Review: Our Cubehouse Still Rocks by Boston Spaceships
Very Good, Based on 4 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
If Robert Pollard's project Boston Spaceships hit a snag after a strong start with their third album, 2009's Zero to 99, they're back to running full speed ahead on their fourth LP, 2010's Our Cubehouse Still Rocks. Once again partnered with John Moen of the Decemberists and Chris Slusarenko of the Takeovers and Sprinkler, Pollard easily conjures up the sound of classic-era Guided by Voices on Our Cubehouse Still Rocks, and if stylistically this music feels more like a look to the past than a bold step into the future, let's be honest -- which album are you more likely to listen to for pleasure, Bee Thousand or From a Compound Eye? At its best, this album sounds like Guided by Voices without the tape noise and the odd pointless tracks, and the strength of this album (and the bulk of the Boston Spaceships catalog) speaks to the reason Boston Spaceships stand out from Pollard's solo work. Pollard works best with sympathetic musicians willing to work up a sweat and act as a sounding board regarding which songs are working and which are not, and by all appearances that's what he has in Moen and Slusarenko, and as a consequence this has been a stronger vehicle than anything Pollard has given himself since the end of GBV (with the exception of his one-off collaboration with Tommy Keene, the Keene Brothers).
So much talk around Robert Pollard is shop-talk; who's in which band now, what's our fidelity level, can this one hang with Mag Earwhig!, that sort of thing. Pollard doesn't so much have fans as obsessives, and-- coupled with his beyond-prolific release schedule and seemingly willful inconsistency-- at this point it can almost seem like you're either in or you're out. But every nut out there divebombing their credit scores to chase the Fading Captain through his many diversions got hooked the same way: on the strength of one perfectly weird, immediately ingratiating pop tune after another.
Writing a review of a Robert Pollard album or side-project these days seems a lot like dancing about architecture. It’s, in many ways, an act of futility. Since the proper dissolution of his main band, Guided by Voices, in late 2004 (not counting the reunited classic line-up that is heading out on tour this fall), Pollard has gone on to record a gabillion albums, either solo or otherwise—some of which are good, some of which are less so.
With Boston Spaceships, Robert Pollard has found his best band since Guided By Voices. Consisting of Pollard, Chris Slusarenko (Guided By Voices), and John Moen (The Decemberists), Boston Spaceships is releasing its fourth album in just a little over two years, and the band seems to be hitting its stride. All of this is relative of course, because, of the trio, Moen is the only one not to have played with Pollard in some form or fashion before this group; Pollard is not exactly a one-band man.