Release Date: Apr 30, 2013
Record label: Guided by Voices
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Robert Pollard is like the William Carlos Williams of alternative rock. Both are men of science: Williams was a doctor, Pollard is a, well, scientist. Both created some of the most succinct miracles in poetry and music, respectively. Pollard’s gift for brevity snowballed into a sum of 1,000 written songs, most of them for his band, Guided By Voices, who are releasing their fourth reunion record together in a little over a year (they plan to squeeze in one more before 2013 burns out).
Guided by Voices were back; now, they're just here. Two years into their reunion, and the news that the lo-fi titans' 1993-1996 lineup would be returning hardly even qualifies as news anymore. English Little League, their latest, is GBV's fourth LP since their comeback, making as many post-hiatus LPs as they managed during that fabled "classic era." Sixteen months back, when they cut the ribbon on Let's Go Eat the Factory, a narrative seemed to emerge: beloved band's finest-ever incarnation returns with a spotty but satisfying LP.
What was most exciting about the reformed Guided By Voices, before there was the inevitable new recorded output, was that the band would drag Pollard out of the studio and onto the road for long stretches of time. Now that the live leg of the reunion is over—for now, anyway—Guided By Voices has become another offshoot of the scattershot powerhouse that is Robert Pollard’s recording life. However, this shift has made for its own little surprises.
It truly sucks that the man who delivered us the near-perfect Bee Thousand almost 20 years ago is the same man who now is the butt of so many jokes. Robert Pollard is a classic example in confusion with quantity versus quality. Or maybe we’re just missing the point. A friend recently explained his GBV frustration to me.
English Little League is the fourth album by the reunited mid-'90s Guided by Voices lineup in a little under a year and it shows the inevitable strain of making so much music in such a short time. Of course, being prolific is basically GbV's calling card, but in the past one could count on a fairly high killer vs. filler ratio. Sometimes even hovering close to 100 percent during the band's salad days.
With 2012’s trilogy of LPs from the reformed ‘classic-era’ Guided By Voices, Robert Pollard undoubtedly exceeded expectations for the band’s recording comeback. The challenge for 2013 is to prove that the GBV reunion is no fleeting detour from his other projects but a living, breathing and ongoing entity. Pollard has also set the productivity bar high with a semi-joking promise to put out three GBV albums a year until the end of time.
Last year, Robert Pollard and the reformed ‘classic’ Guided By Voices line up (Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell and Kevin Fennell) started recording again. In a year they released three albums. Pollard released two solo records.