Release Date: Jan 17, 2012
Record label: GBV Inc.
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
In the 1990s, Guided by Voices were like a mythic one-legged Third World distance runner who miraculously overcomes adversity to win a medal. Despite manifest deficits – lousy sound quality, half-finished songs, titles like “Kicker of Elves” – their albums were tune orgies, suggesting Cheap Trick getting Schlitzed in a Midwestern rec room. The band’s first since 2004 is no different.
Like a dry drunk who just fell off the wagon, Guided By Voices are stumbling around and partying like it’s 1994 again. In fact, maybe even earlier: The indie icons’ latest album—a boozy blur of sloppy, out-of-key, ultra-lo-fi walls o’ sound—comes across as if it could’ve been their first. No doubt that’s because Bob Pollard wisely chose the band’s classic line-up (Alien Lanes, Bee Thousand) as the one to reassemble, and one of the band’s earliest recording garages as the place to hunker down in.
In 2010, Robert Pollard reunited the much-beloved Guided by Voices for a tour with what was arguably the band’s best lineup. But, as proven by their latest release, it seems the feeling was too good to resist recording the super anticipated follow-up to the band’s last album before they originally disbanded, 2004’s Half Smiles of the Decomposed. The reunited band — which includes Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Greg Demos, Kevin Fennell and Jimmy Pollard, some of the same guys behind Bee Thousand and Alien Lane — set out to record a collection of new material in their garages and living rooms.
This is unmistakably a [a]Guided By Voices[/a] record. Twenty-one hard-bitten, melody-powered scuzz missiles fired at whim with nary a thought given to what it is exactly they’re volleying into the ether. It was recorded by the reconvened class of ’93-’96, and the men behind ‘Bee Thousand’ have done it again: made a glorious, frayed-at-the-edges patchwork of bristling garage pop ([b]‘God Loves Us’[/b], [b]‘The Unsinkable Fats Domino’[/b]), stadium rock racketeering ([b]‘Imperial Racehorsing’[/b]), saloon-bar tenderness ([b]‘Doughnut For A Snowman’[/b]), and nightmarishly ramshackle dirges constructed from shoddy time-keeping and distortion alone.
Clanging guitar chords stride across a roistering piano, and Robert Pollard adopts his steeliest voice to declare: "I challenge you to rock. " Rise to his challenge and you'll be rewarded: Guided by Voices' return to the fray, eight years after their "final" album and 15 years after this classic lineup disbanded, is exhilarating, a kaleidoscopic burst of ideas and passion and absurdity. Songs tumble into each other, many lasting just a minute or two, yet each one distinct and compelling.
It's about time! After a 15 year hiatus, the "classic lineup" of Guided By Voices-Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Greg Demos, and Kevin Fennell—has finally returned to the studio for its first album of new material since 1996's Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. And the album is nothing less than a triumphant return, marked by all the melodic bliss, songwriting eccentricities, and lyrical enigmas that define Robert Pollard, but this time supported by his most crack band of collaborators. .
It’s been 15 years since the ”classic” GBV lineup stopped putting out the tuneful, delightfully shambolic albums that became their signature. Now reunited and intent on rebottling that boozy magic, the boys have dusted off their four-tracks and revisited their basements. Like previous efforts, Let’s Go Eat the Factory seats shining riffsters alongside hypnotically inscrutable interludes, though much of it sounds more belabored and less beer-soaked than those of yore.
Robert Pollard’s last words on Guided by Voices‘ supposed swan song, 2004’s Half Smiles for the Decomposed, are “I’ve come to start up my head/Been closed and locked up/For far too long.” Perhaps Pollard was feeling constricted seven years ago and needed a break from the band that had brought him a loyal (albeit cult) following; regardless, he hardly shied away. Following the “swan song,” Pollard formed Boston Spaceships and even saw fit to add about a dozen solo albums to his increasingly sizable discography. However, whatever feelings he had seven years ago are now moot: Guided by Voices is blessedly back.
By the time Guided by Voices called it quits at the end of 2004, it was taken as gospel by most fans that Robert Pollard was the band, especially given the notorious 1996 incident in which Pollard fired all his bandmates and replaced them en masse with the group Cobra Verde. With this in mind, it was expected that Pollard's solo career would achieve the same loopy majesty as GBV's best work, but that proved not to be the case as Pollard released an unrelenting stream of pleasant but mediocre albums that made his densely packed pop tunes sound ordinary and troublingly similar. Easily the best work Pollard did after retiring GBV were his collaborative projects with makeshift groups such as Boston Spaceships, the Keene Brothers, and the Circus Devils, making it obvious that Pollard might not need Guided by Voices per se, but he needed a band, spirited collaborators who would give his songs shape and help him separate his wheat from his chaff.
Guided by Voices requires little preamble. Chances are, if you've landed on this page, it's because you're well aware that these lo-fi pioneers struck out from Dayton, Ohio nearly thirty years ago, charting territory in a sea of pop-post-punk-garage-rock, tangled cassette tape and warbling recordings, and a little bit of off-kilter weirdness. The band has been a veritable revolving door for musicians who've filtered in and trickled out, always circling round consistent frontman Robert Pollard, each contributing to a legacy that's now stacked 17 records.
Rumors had been rife for some time, among those who care about such things, of a Guided By Voices reunion. In 2010 main man Robert Pollard gathered together what is generally regarded as the band’s finest line-up – the mid 1990s roster of Pollard, Sprout, Demos, Mitchell and Fennell – for a tour, and I guess the temptation to record some new material with his old drinkin’ buddies was too great to resist. I have to say I’m glad he couldn’t resist, as Let’s Go Eat The Factory is, to use a clichéd phrase, a great big “Return To Form”; the form in question being that of albums from 15-odd years ago such as Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand.
Over the years, there were many Guided by Voices: the R. E. M.
Guided By VoicesLet’s Go Eat the Factory[Guided by Voices Inc. / Fire Records; 2012]By Harrison Suits Baer; January 9, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThe word “classic” gets tossed around quite a bit these days. In fact, the other day I saw my friend Gavin walking down the street. He was drinking a Classic Coca-Cola, while listening to classic rock on his iPod classic.
Few bandleaders are as prolific as Robert Pollard, so although it's been 15 years since the demise of Guided by Voices' so-called "classic lineup," fans have never wanted for new material. However, when the lineup responsible for 1994's Bee Thousand and 1995's Alien Lanes announced they would reunite for some shows, the immediate question was whether they would record. Let's Go Eat The Factory is the first of two scheduled albums from the reformed band, and while it fails to match their previous hit quotient, it's still a decent listen.
Despite his inability to control his ultra-prolific output, don’t mistake Robert Pollard for anything less than a savvy promoter and showman. The reunion of the “classic” Guided By Voices line-up comes at a time when these sorts of reunions have become commonplace, a way for older bands to both rehash the past and—let’s admit it—make some money on our nostalgia. It seems only right that Guided By Voices and Archers of Loaf and whoever else should get some decent return for what they gave us years ago, and the best of these tours have proven a shot in the arm for the players themselves.
Eight years after what was meant to be GBV's final album, Robert Pollard, the band's relentlessly prolific linchpin, has gathered together their "classic lineup" for a 17th studio album. Recorded in living rooms, basements and garages, it's a scrappy, doggedly lo-fi, 21-track assemblage of half-thoughts and afterthoughts – fragments as variable in quality as they are in style. There are just enough titbits of melody though – not least that of the sweetly silly and downbeat "Doughnut for a Snowman" – to sustain interest through the beerier-sounding fits and starts.
It’s fair to say that Guided By Voices were always known for their scattershot approach, their albums typically comprising a handful of 'core' tracks in the style for which the band is best known – a melody-led variant of the early Who’s proto-hard rock – padded out with a larger, if cumulatively shorter, bunch of lo-fi sketches where the object of the exercise appeared to be to get the idea down as quickly as possible before moving on. This remained broadly true even in the period 1999-2004 when they tried out some 'proper' production and briefly dallied with a major label before heading back to the best-of-both-worlds safety of Matador. No surprise, then, to find that Let’s Go Eat The Factory, the band’s first album since 2004’s Half-Smiles Of The Decomposed, described by lynchpin Robert Pollard as a return to the 'semi-collegial' M.
Introducing a startlingly straitlaced cover of the Guided By Voices song “Game of Pricks” in 2010, elfin violin/electronics master Owen Pallett recalled how after a live encounter with the band’s rowdy following, he found himself suddenly less comfortable with calling himself a fan of Rob Pollard and his rotating cast of drunks. “They were amazing,” he clarified, “the best live band… but there were a lot of jocks. I had no idea!” The image of Pallett, bewildered amid waves of meaty arms and beer bottles borne aloft illustrates a clash of indie rock epochs and sensibilities.
In a decade or two of very awesome ideas in indie rock, one of the best also has the least to do with music. It’s chronicled in the to-do list of Stephen Malkmus, and if it turns out that he doesn’t have one, I’m fairly sure these are the bullet-points: firstly, write some music. There’s no outlet better for a guy who still speaks in riddles after all these years.
Even though 2004’s dissolution of Guided By Voices had the marks of finality to it – especially with commander-in-chief Robert Pollard’s subsequent ceaseless productivity as a solo artist and a multiple side-project dabbler suggesting that he no longer needed the GBV funnel to channel his relentlessly flooding songwriting – there was still some semblance of unfinished business, albeit in a non-linear sense. For although the pre-split late-‘90s/early-‘00s line-ups of the band had indeed cut some strong LPs – most notably 1997’s overlooked Mag Earwhig! and 2002’s underrated Universal Truths And Cycles – there was something left hanging from the group’s seminal lo-fi early-to-mid-‘90s incarnation. This is something that Pollard has therefore consciously or unconsciously sought to address by reuniting GBV with ‘classic’ period veterans Tobin Sprout, Kevin Fennell, Greg Demos and Mitch Mitchell, for live duties last year and now a new record (with non-touring brother Jim Pollard joining in with the latter).
GUIDED BY VOICES “Let’s Go Eat the Factory” (GBV) When Robert Pollard dissolved Guided by Voices in 2004, the farewell was largely a name change. He had been virtually the band’s only songwriter since 1997, working with various lineups. Perhaps that was the way to keep up with his output, which is well beyond prolific into songorrheic. Retiring the Guided by Voices rubric didn’t prevent Mr.
Legendary line-up delivers its first album in 15 years with mixed results. Spencer Grady 2012 Since getting the classic line-up of his band back together in 2010, the focus of Guided by Voices’ reunion has naturally centred on the group’s leader Robert Pollard. Would the mic-twirling, beer-swilling, scissor-kicking, ex-high school teacher be able to get the best out of his boozy troupe? Could he whip his fellow veteran garage-rockers into decent enough shape to repeat the feats of Vampire on Titus, Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes; a suite of 90s albums brimming with joyous hooks and quirky lo-fi charm? Well, the answer is, fairly predictably, no, not quite.