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David Sprague

Guided By Voices
Universal Truths and Cycles
Matador Records

t's often been said that you can't go home again, but Robert Pollard and company go a long way toward dispelling that universal truth on this bracingly diverse collection of dissonant pop, which should have visions of GBV classics like Bee Thousand dancing in fans' heads. The spry songs are peppered with hairpin turns that trail all the sonic ephemera that was absent on their last couple of discs. For example, "Skin Parade" veers from lounge ballad to careening rocker in the span of just a couple of verses. There's plenty of stylistic shape-shifting going on here, from the dour acoustic meandering of "Weeping Bogeyman" to the full-on arena-rock attack of "Chinese Animation Torch Carriers," powered by Doug Gillard's arcing guitar solos. Considerably less preoccupied with making sense, Pollard once again feels free to sprinkle in random bits of whimsy, such as the 30-second "Wire Greyhounds," as well as dribs and drabs of cello, piano, and ambient sound. On a similar note, "Everywhere with Helicopter" will have you singing along with its impossibly catchy chorus even as you're wondering what the heck is actually coming out of your mouth -- and that's a cycle that certainly bears repeating