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The Broken Face
By Nick Bensen
Guided By Voices
The Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet
#24 in the Fading Captain Series
This ten song CD-EP provides a handy compendium of b-sides from the 7" singles released in conjunction with the album Universal Truths And Cycles. Guided by Voices EPs are always interesting prospects, often featuring some of the band's most beloved songs (such as "Big School", "My Impression Now" and "Shocker In Gloomtown"). The Pipe Dreams Of Instant Prince Whippet comes off as particularly consistent and cohesive.
"Visit This Place" has a sing-along chorus that is bound to make it a live staple. The jerky yet measured new wave chords of "Swooping Energies" help to explain why Bob Pollard chose Ric Ocasek from The Cars to produce some of GbV's big budget material. "Keep It Coming" starts off quietly and then blooms into a heavy mid-tempo rocker. There is a bracing emotional quality to the slow and booming "Actions Speak Volumes" that Bob Pollard has only rarely approached before on such songs as "Learning To Hunt" and "Heavy Metal Country". In mid-GbV tradition, "Stronger Lizards" is over nearly as soon as its chord changes start to register. The title track is like a lost gem from the days of Static Airplane Jive, lo-fi, melodic and haunting. "Request Pharmaceuticals" has the hard, cynical edge evinced on some songs from Isolation Drills. The straight-faced acoustic Americana of "For Liberty" brings up a part of Bob Pollard's songwriting that always seems to be at odds with his general role as an indie mystic. "Dig Through My Window" is the clear winner of this strong bunch - a memorably beautiful song lushly filled out by the string quartet Invert. The EP ends on a somber note with the anthem of working-class futility "Beg For A Wheelbarrow". The grim message of the repeated chorus is driven home by the sinister use of high and low vocal octave shift effects.
Within the space of around 23 minutes, The Pipe Dreams Of Instant Prince Whippet resonates in many different directions, just like the best releases from each incarnation of Guided by Voices. This EP serves as a worthy companion piece to Universal Truths And Cycles but it also stands up well on its own. This limited edition CD is bound to sell out fast, so get a copy fromwww.gbv.com while you can.