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Guided By Voices
Universal Truths and Cycles
Though nearing 50, and with an ego checked by two overly slick mainstream crossover attempts that never materialized, Guided by Voices' captain/resident lunatic Robert Pollard is still the biggest rock star in his own world, a psychedelic stalwart who so transcends the indie rock landscape that he could record himself in a bathroom and his faithful would declare its genius.
The good news is that his group's return to indie label Matador -- where he released two of the best power pop records of all time, '94's Bee Thousand and '96's Under the Bushes, Under the Stars -- also marks the return of the drunk-guy-with-a-tape-recorder aesthetic that helped provide GBV's best moments, which is why fans might finally have a proper companion to the arena-in-my-closet-rock of '95's Alien Lanes.
As much as this is a fairly sharp studio affair, the ol' "Budweiser Bob" spirit is certainly back, and Universal Truths and Cycles is filled with those mini-epics of alternate universe power rock ("Christian Animation Torch Carriers," "Everywhere with Helicopter") and hangover ballads ("Zap," "Car Language") that have no equal when Pollard's on.