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Guided By Voices
Universal Truths and Cycles
mas·ter·piece : a work done with extraordinary skill; especially : a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement.
If there were a more appropriate word to describe GbV’s newest slab of genius, please let me in on it. Once again Robert Pollard has amazed me with an album that reaches far beyond even the lofty expectations placed upon him. I truly believe that the best songs Mr. Pollard has written are contained withinUniversal Truths and Cycles. I also truly had no concern weather this album was going to sound like “old-school” (yuck, I hate that term!) GbV or the new stuff. Who the fuck cares? What really matters is that this is the best record you’re going to hear this year, or until Pollard releases another record, which ever comes first. To tell you the truth, I can’t imagine GbV returning to the lo-fi sound that made them famous with all the Pavement worshipping lo-fi nerds who felt so betrayed when the band dared to step into a proper studio. UTAS was recorded at Cro-Magnon studios, where Pollard has done much of his recent solo and side projects and was produced by the band themselves. The fact that it was done without an outside producer probably lent to the heavier tone on the album. Another huge pothole in the road for the lo-fi nerds is the exceptional musicians Pollard has now surrounded himself with, making it pretty unlikely that the band will sound the way they did eight years ago. But if you’re wondering if the actual songs are more like those of the older days, and not so concerned with weather they were recorded on a boom box or an ADAT, then I will talk to you now. Truthfully, there are songs on Universal Truths that could be compared to any GbV-era, even back to the earliest days. From a Voice Plantation could have easily come from Devil Between My Toes. Zap, at just over a minute, is up there along with Wandering Boy Poet or How Loft I Am? The album’s title track, and quite possibly the best GbV tune ever, is reminiscent of greats like Echos Myron and Closer You Are. Everywhere With Helicopter is the hardest rocking song on the record, and is another of the best tracks. With an album like this it’s impossible to really tell someone which song they should check out first. I would simply have to sit down with you and tell you just why each track is as uniquely brilliant as the next. I do know that now when someone asks me what album they should use to introduce themselves to Guided by Voices, I no longer tell them Alien Lanes or Bee Thousand. If you want to be introduced to this band, or just great rock and roll, pick up this record. There’s no denying the brilliance of every GbV record, unless you’re really stupid, but there is a point where you have to realize that a band can write better songs, and that’s what Pollard continues to do. He has made his Sgt. Pepper. Well, shit, who the fuck am I kidding, he’s made is sixth or seventh Sgt. Pepper, but who’s counting! Point? Go buy the fucking record!