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By Cam Lindsay

Guided By Voices
Half Smiles of the Decomposed
Matador Records

A Guided By Voices swansong seems hard to believe, but apparently, Half Smiles Of The Decomposed is the final chapter in one of rock 'n' roll's great success stories. While Pollard and company haven't always hit the nail on the head, the 15th studio album in their 20 years is a strong record to bid farewell with. Right from the get-go, they pull out the big guns with Everybody Thinks I'm A Raincloud (When I'm Not Looking), a steady opener that hits all of the band's strengths and will go down as one of their finest songs in recent memory. In fact, Half Smiles has a few tracks that see GBV at the top of their game. Girls Of Wild Strawberries has a funny, parting sentiment, courtesy of a slow drumming tempo and whimsical, nostalgic lyrics. The Closets Of Henry and Asphyxiated Circle each come across as meaningful lessons taught by Pollard, in his role as the majestic narrator. Naturally, there are some minor flaws, but the album ends on a real high note with the uplifting Huffman Prairie Flying Field. They may be absent from Matador's new release schedule next year (we'll see about that), but GBV will easily go down as one of the most prolific and influential rock bands ever.