Release Date: Mar 4, 2016
Record label: Fire Records
After listening to Robert Pollardâ€™s latest solo release, Of Course You Are, all I could think was, â€œI bet this guy has a killer record collection.â€ The album incorporates elements of every major genre of rock music to have graced the charts in the past fifty years. The fact Pollard can do this and still have a unique voice as a songwriter is a testament to the powers this man truly has. Not only when it comes time to write a song, but also when it comes time to assemble musicians to play those songs.â€œMy Daughter Yes She Knowâ€ opens the album, and perhaps does so with more volume than any solo Pollard album has opened with in quite some time.
Already trumping Deep Purple for lineup changes, Robert Pollard announced Mark XXXVII.2 of Guided By Voices would rise again this summer at the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival. New recruits Bobby Bare, Jr. and Mark Shue will be joined by Pollard and cohorts Kevin March (Guided By Voices, Ricked Wicky) and Nick Mitchell (Ricked Wicky) when the band is scheduled to headline the four-day event this June in Calgary.
Sometimes it's difficult to tell Robert Pollard's various solo albums and many side projects apart from one another, given the distinct tone of his songwriting and the fact his cronies often pop up on one album after another, and if Pollard's 2016 solo album Of Course You Are occasionally recalls his recent recordings with "sophisticated arena rock band" Ricked Wicky, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for that -- Pollard's musical sidekick in Ricked Wicky, Nick Mitchell, not only produced and engineered Of Course You Are, he played all the instruments himself. That said, while Mitchell has his stamp on both this album and the Ricked Wicky material, Of Course You Are is also one of the most musically ambitious albums Pollard has released under his various monikers in quite some time. Mitchell has filled out Pollard's tunes with smart, thoughtful arrangements that often move beyond the guitar/bass/drums simplicity that has marked much of his non-Guided by Voices work, and Mitchell's applications of keyboards, horns, and strings give this a sophisticated texture that at once recalls the discount-store grandeur of GbV's glory days and stands apart from Pollard's previous body of work.
With a workrate verging on the obsessive, Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard has reputedly written around 1,700 songs to date and with the release of Of Course You Are his tally of 24 solo LPs has outstripped the 23 he’s helmed with GBV to date. Naysayers have frequently quibbled about quantity overwhelming quality where Pollard’s singular career is concerned, but recent studio LPs Blazing Gentlemen (2013) and last year’s Faulty Superheroes were precisely-recorded, state of the art alt rock records which almost entirely avoided the spotty, lo-fi traits inherent in GBV’s early work. Cut from similar, well-tailored cloth, Of Course You Are is another of Pollard’s hallmark, brevity-fuelled excursions.
The standard angle on Robert Pollard, past (and future) Guided By Voices frontman and eternal indie-rock king of Dayton, Ohio, is to highlight his prolific streak. And it’s not an unfair reputation, either, as according to his record label, Pollard has released a staggering 24 solo albums on top of Guided By Voices’ (and his various other, non-GBV projects’) output. Across those dozens of albums, a few things remain consistent: Pollard’s cracked-mirror approach to songwriting, and a catchy pop-rock sensibility that he couldn’t shake if he tried.