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By Brandon Stosuy
Guided By Voices
Half Smiles of the Decomposed
Robert Pollard's anachronistic sound, a mix of chirpy '60s British pop and lo-fi garage, remains one of indie rock's most enjoyable pleasures, something that has transcended trends to become an oddball institution. Despite one certifiable dud -- the 2000 Ric Ocasek-produced Do The Collapse -- Ohio's favorite high-kicking songsmith and his Guided By Voices crew have remained vital for more than 20 years, piecing together disparate hooks and casting a lonesome, timeless charm on the indie rock world. So it seems tragic that Half Smiles of the Decomposed is GBV's official victory lap. Thankfully, it's a worthy parting bow: "Girls of Wild Strawberries" is a perfect, poppy jangle; the sprawling "Sleep Over Jack" oozes charisma and features a surprisingly muscular bass; and the opening cadences of "Window of my World" drift through the air like fall leaves. Though the album's second half could've been tighter and longtime fans will quickly realize this album doesn't equal the band's mid-'90s high points of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, Pollard does tap into his ineffable genius one last time, churning out a handful of fuzzy, near-perfect gems.