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CMJ New Music Monthly
August 2002
Matt Ashare

Guided By Voices
Universal Truths and Cycles
Matador Records

Robert Pollard may have parted company with the original group of Dayton drinking pals who constituted the Guided by Voices that conquered the indie world almost a decade ago. He may have left Matador for the highest bidder (TVT) and, with the help of his buddies in Cobra Verde, taken a genuine shot at making a fairly "normal" sounding pair of studio albums (1999's Do the Collapse and 2001's Isolation Drills). But, while he didn't quite miss the mark--GBV came off just fine as hard-rocking melody-mongers with short song titles and long, verse/chorus/verse songs--he did, like many a successful Britpop band has over the past decade, discover that there just isn't much room in the American mainstream for Beatles-esque popcraft. Fortunately, Pollard didn't burn his bridge back to indie land, or even to Matador, which is where he returns for Universal Truths and Cycles. The disc opens with the all-too-brief "Wire Greyhounds," which, at 32 seconds, has enough hooks to fill 32 minutes. Over the course of 18 more tunes in 46 minutes, Pollard goes on to neatly split the difference between the muscular-yet-tuneful guitar anthems of his hi-fi days, and the cryptic four-tracking quirks that got GBV off the ground in the first place.