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UK Times
November 2, 2003
By Stewart Lee

Guided By Voices
Human Amusements at Hourly Rates
Matador Records

Pop CD of the week: Guided By Voices: Human Amusements at Hourly Rates

For more than a decade, critics have been telling you, the record-buying public, that Dayton, Ohio’s Guided by Voices are among the world’s greatest bands, yet you have insolently refused to use your purchasing power to make them a household name. To be fair, your reticence is understandable. The tally of songs recorded by the band and various solo spin-offs now stands at about 900, spread over more than 40 albums. Where is a Guided by Voices virgin, seduced by hagiographic reports of the band’s perfect fusion of punk, 1960s beat pop and lo-fi aesthetics, supposed to board the bus? Human Amusements at Hourly Rates, a compilation of 32 uniformly excellent songs, is the calling card you have been waiting for. Former schoolteacher Robert Pollard plucks meaningless yet fascinating phrases out of the ether and sets them to small but perfectly formed riffs that are so pleasing to the ear, it’s tempting to assume he has cracked some objective correlative of universal beauty. The album is also available as part of the five-CD package Hardcore UFOs, which includes 23 unreleased songs, 35 out-of-print singles and B-sides, 32 live tracks and the holy grail of GBV collectors, the disavowed 1985 debut EP, Forever Since Breakfast. Three stars