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New City Chicago preview
After defining both the glory years of DIY
indie pop and its ugly internal collapse (eaten alive by legendary stories of
alcohol abuse and infighting, and usurped by Korn and Limp Bizkit for Spin
coverage), Guided By Voices has jumped ship from Matador Records to TVT;
apparently, though, the end is not near: the band's (i.e. Robert Pollard's)
latest, "Do The Collapse", is one of its best. My problem with Guided
By Voices was always that the relentless volume of releases meant there was bond
to be crap - I've yet to understand why anyone would want to hear Pollard's
every little precious tweedle, noodle and prattle (same goes for Lou Barlow).
Apparently he's refined the Ritalin dosage, though; songs here, like the
previously released "Teenage FBI", are verse-chorus-verse whole,
rather than mere skeletons of pop songs. Diehards may resist the (gulp) Weezer-like
treatment producer Ric Ocasek lavishes, all soaring guitar crunch and
mood-altering synthesizers - in reality, it's the CPR Pollard's Hollies/Zombies/Badfinger-esque
pop needed all along.
Chicago Reader Chicago preview
Following an uncharacteristically lengthy two year silence, Robert Pollard's Guided By Voices has resurfaced on a new label with a bright, shiny new album, Do The Collapse (TVT). In the past Pollard has notoriously sabotaged records that were sounding too professional in the studio, preferring tape hiss, jarring fades, and inconsistent recording levels to anything resembling clarity, depth or oomph. Recently, though, the old crank decided that his songcraft deserves a bigger audience than just those who paid for his retirement from schoolteaching, and because he dug the guitar sound former Cars leader Ric Ocasek got out of Weezer - yikes - he enlisted him to produce Do The Collapse for maximum accessibility. But although Ocasek laid some pulsing, synth parts on the album's typically catchy opener, "Teenage FBI", and used the Soldier String Quartet to sculpt some unremarkable orchestral sweeps on a few other tunes, for the most part the difference is in the general recording quality - anyone who can turn a knob probably could've done the same job. The new clarity does give Pollard's sublime hooks greater impact, although half the fun before was listening for the moment the melodies broke through the muck. And without the muck to temper them, ballads like "Hold On Hope" and "Liquid Indian" showcase Pollard's unattractive arena-rock proclivities: neither song would sound out of place between Cinderella and Journey on the radio. Still, it's hard to resist his brand of more-of-the-same, and the current lineup (Pollard goes through band members like most people go through trash bags) is a good one, with Cobre Verde alum Doug Gillard on guitar, former Breeder Jim Macpherson on drums, and Guided By Voices vet Greg Demos - a guy who gives striped pants a good name - on bass.