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August 11 2003
By Sean Palmerston
Guided By Voices
Nestled back safely in the Matador home pen, the second GBV album since their return finds them sounding much more comfortable than on last year’s Universal Truths and Cycles. With new drummer Kevin March making his official recording debut, the band sounds as good as ever. Leadoff track “My Kind Of Soldier” is a nice two-minute opener, the sample heavy “I’ll Replace You With Machines” is a classic if ever there was one, and the sublime hooks of “She Goes Off At Night,” with its gentle electric guitar strum and drone during the pre-chorus bridges, is one of the prettiest latter day GBV songs since “Twilight Campfighter.” Not every song in the collection works as well, however. The math-y stop-start of “Dead Cloud” is choppy and off-setting and Robert Pollard’s vocals sound, well, like someone else and leave an uneasy feeling. Other experiments, like the proggy “Apology In Advance” work better, even with its ultra wanky guitar leads, but still miss the mark slightly. Overall it’s a nice collection, and more than three-quarters of the songs are definite keepers.