Release Date: Feb 3, 2015
Record label: Guided by Voices
A new Robert Pollard album is about as surprising as spring turning into fall. Whether it’s been with the reformed-now-defunct-again Guided by Voices, a side project like Boston Spaceships or under his birth name, Pollard writes and releases music with a fair degree of consistency and a startling degree of regularity. Under the name Ricked Wicky, Pollard’s I Sell the Circus may not be up to the same gold standard as GBV’s Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, but it’s still one of his silver medal records.
The “classic line-up” return for Guided By Voices ended unceremoniously in 2014. A short announcement was made. Tour dates were cancelled. That was it. The band left behind a new stack of solid records and countless singles, as well as some successful tours. Robert Pollard, well, he just kept ….
Before Guided by Voices, before Boston Spaceships, before the Circus Devils, Go Back Snowball, Acid Ranch, Psycho & the Birds and all the rest, there was Ricked Wicky. Well, sort of; when a then-teenaged Robert Pollard dreamt up his very first band from his Dayton bedroom, the name Ricked Wicky shone down from the imaginary marquee. Through dozens of bands and hundreds of records, Pollard—whose inhuman output rarely leaves him holding much in his back pocket for very long—held onto Ricked Wicky.
For a certified indie rock icon, Robert Pollard is easy to take for granted. But that’s not really our fault, is it? After all, the guy just doesn’t go away. That’s a blessing for fans of Pollard’s bites of lo-fi gutter poetry, but while he spoils his followers with endless musical riches, that often makes it hard to fully absorb the greatness of his records.
Robert Pollard has possibly the strongest work ethic in rock & roll -- he's one of the few artists of note who routinely releases three or four albums in a given year -- and after Pollard announced in September 2014 that he had pulled the plug on Guided by Voices (the venerable indie rock band he founded in 1987), he wasted little time getting back in the game. I Sell the Circus is the debut album from Ricked Wicky, the latest in a long line of projects from Pollard, which finds him in a straightforward rockin' mood while also indulging his fondness for classic hard rock and progressive influences. Featuring production from longtime Pollard cohort Todd Tobias and contributions from multi-instrumentalist Nick Mitchell, I Sell the Circus includes 15 examples of the sort of smart, unpretentious, and playfully surreal songwriting that's Robert Pollard's trademark, both past and present.
After reforming and disbanding Guided by Voices during a three-year whirlwind that saw the Dayton, Ohio band release six full-lengths and an EP, Robert Pollard returns to single life with I Sell the Circus. Adopting the name from a non-existent band he created in high school, Pollard's latest attempt to reach back to his early-GBV days finds him crafting one of his most raw and lo-fi sounding albums in recent history. Although Pollard continued to release solo albums (two under his name and two as Circus Devils) during the last incarnation of Guided by Voices, many of the 15 songs that make up I Sell the Circus come off either exceedingly eccentric or frustratingly generic.