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August 2003 Vol 4 no. 8
By Fred Mills
Guided By Voices
Given that Robert Pollard has always worn his Pete
Townshend influence on his sleeve - he once confessed
to me that everything he'd ever written probably had
some Who-like component - it's been tempting of late
to cast Guided by Voices albums in a similar light.
Was 2000's fussed-over, Ric Ocasek-produced, Do the
Collapse Pollard's Quadrophenia? Was 2001's boozy
divorce chronicle Isolation Drills his The Who by
Numbers? 2002's big-beat opus Universal Truths and
Cycles his Who's Next?
Who, um, the hell knows? Because Earthquake Glue
breaks stride, sounding like, well, not much anything
except GBV. Specifically, old-school GBV, not the
"lo-fi song snippets" GBV, but the stylistically
hop-scotching GBV. So on the one hand, you get
undeniably radio-friendly tracks like the synth-laden
pop of "Mix Up the Satellite" (sic) and the
chiming/anthemic "My Kind of Soldier," which contrast
with the murky prog-boogie of "I'll Replace You With
Machines" and the baroque-flavored "A Trophy Mule in
Particular." A pair of cuts do nod towards classic
Who, actually: the rock operetta-ish "Secret Star" and
the dramatic, power-chord-laden "Dirty Water." But
those are but two out of 15.
In other words, the usual critical parlor games don't
apply - anecdotal evidence that, despite its mercurial
nature, Earthquake Glue may ultimately come to be
regarded alongside mid 90's GBV benchmarks Bee
Thousand and Alien Lanes. It's always tough for an
artist to compete with his own back catalog, much less
the catalogs of his musical heroes. As it stands now,
though, this is the most diverse and across-the-board
fun GBV release in years.
[in a sidebar on the same page]
GIMME 5: Robert Pollard's Top 5 Beers:
1 Miller Lite. "That's embarrassing, but that's what I
drink. I'm not into all those f***ing crazy beers."
2 Budweiser. "I'm not a beer connoisseur, I'm a beer
3 Heineken. "Skunky ass beer. You don't put beer in
clear bottles. What's up with that?"
4 Guinness. "You've gotta sit around and drink a
Guinness once in awhile, especially when you're in
5 Tequila. "I do shots of tequila occasionally. I got
out of the brown liquor phase, especially Jack. Jack
makes you mean. Put tequila for #5. I know it doesn't
make any sense, but do it anyway."