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San Diego City Beat
By Dryw Kelt

Guided By Voices
Half Smiles of the Decomposed
Matador Records

8.7 out of 10

Goes Well With: The 200 other Guided By Voices albums

According to ringleader Robert Pollard, the best British Invasion band to ever hail from Dayton, Ohio will play their final show this New Year’s Eve in Chicago, and Half Smiles of the Decomposed will be their swansong.

Half Smiles is the music of a man slowly letting go of his dreams of rock stardom. The tone is very melancholy—lots of sad reminiscing propelled by a small undercurrent of self-assured optimism.

Tracks 11-13 (“Asphyxiated Circle,” “A Second Spurt of Growth,” and “(S)mothering and Coaching”) reflect this mood perfectly and may be the most beautiful three-song sequence Pollard has ever come up with. The trio leads into the album closer “Huffman Prairie Flying Field,” a brilliant choice to close the book of GBV. “Huffman” contains elements essential to great works of the band past and present—bizarre lyrics with lots of illusionary images, a fist-pumping chorus, a full-on anthem finale.

Most of all, though, it’s just a great fucking song.

Guided by Voices’ “Farewell Tour” hits ’Canes on Nov. 11. $18. 858-481-1780.