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UK Sunday Times
Sunday August 22 2004
By Stuart Lee 

Guided By Voices
Half Smiles of the Decomposed
Matador Records
 
Half Smiles of the Decomposed is Guided by Voicesí 28th and final album. Add to that the 21 the bandís front man Robert Pollard, has released under his own and various assumed names, and the groupís two-decade catalogue seems impossibly vast. Pollard, an Ohio school teacher, was already well past indie-rock icon age when he finally downed his red pen and committed himself to a lifelong quest for the perfect fusion of DIY psychedelia, modish 1960s beat pop, progressive-rock time changes, satisfyingly random song titles, hardcore punk aesthetics and mouth-watering melodies. Perhaps itís the years of critical acclaim, coupled with never quite making it big, that convinced Pollard to surrender the GBV brand. Although he intends to continue recording, Pollard says that the stylistic expectations the name creates have become a hindrance. Maybe Half Smiles of the Decomposed is the last time weíll savour choice GBV moves like the adenoidal folk-pop of Girls of Wild Strawberries, the exultant rush of Closets of Henry and the bonsai rock opera of Sons of Apollo. Guided by Voices are - or were - one of the greatest bands in the history of the world ever, honest. Their last show is on New Yearís Eve this year at the Metro, Chicago. See you down the front.