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By Mary Dickie
Guided By Voices
Half Smiles of the Decomposed
If Half Smiles Of The Decomposed is the last Guided By Voices album, what is Bob Pollard going to do with all the great song ideas he obviously comes up
with every five minutes? Why, put out solo albums at an equally rapid rate, of course.
The remarkably prolific Pollard has been guiding his Voices over a checkered, riotous, nearly-two-decade history, churning out catchy guitar-based songs by the thousands and making the Dayton, Ohio, group into probably the most revered indie-rock band ever -- even if he has been the sole constant member. But this year, Pollard said he was "getting too old to be a gang leader" and planned to pack the band in after releasing its 15th full-length album and playing a final New Year's show in Chicago.
As an epitaph for a certain sound from a certain time, Half Smiles is almost perfect. It's full of sweet melodies, elliptical, introspective lyrics and Pollard's compelling voice, with its echoes of '70s prog bands and '60s British invasion pop groups. It's the end of an era, but everyone's favourite ex-schoolteacher is not going to give up songwriting, and there are a number of GBV addicts happy in the meantime. Fiction Man, the latest in the Fading Captain series, is a solo album of sorts, while the band contributed a cover of Baba O'Riley to a Who tribute album, and there will also be a 10th-anniversary three-LP edition of GBV's classic Bee Thousand, with several previously unreleased songs. And what do you bet there'll be a new solo Bob Pollard album by the wings in the new year? Stay tuned.