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Guided By Voices
Universal Truths and Cycles
Matador Records

A few months ago, a frequent customer and Guide by Voices fan was in the store buying one of Robert Pollard's Airport 5 releases in the Fading Captain series. During our conversation about the prolific songwriter he commented, "I wish Pollard would stop making records so he can make a record." In the end, we both agreed that these Airport 5 releases (as well as Go Back Snowball, Circus Devils, etc.) all have their moments, some better than others, but placed next to "Bee Thousand" or "Alien Lanes," these albums were more or less fodder for the GbV enthusiast. 

So now the good news: Bob and company have made a RECORD! A triumphant return to Matador and accompanied by a salty salute, "Universal Truths and Cycles" is no doubt GbV's best release in years. Holding over some of the big rock production from "Do the Collapse" and "Isolation Drills" (the latter a great record with Bob finally realizing all of his 
classic rock dreams), their latest is nicely balanced by many lo-fi moments and under-a-minute anthems. Straight out of the gate, Pollard and his band break loose spewing hooks left and right with the thirty-six second "Wire Greyhounds." 
"Christian Animation Torch Carriers" twists and turns with a non-stop barrage of melodies and is one of Bob's most ambitious songs to date. Tracks like "Love 1" and "Father Sgt.Christmas Card" are classic GbV, with down-strummed rhythm guitars supporting Pollard's elastic vocals and stream of consciousness delivery, while the classic rock harmonies and Doug Gilliard's searing guitar leads in "Everywhere With Helicopter" has the makings of a rock radio hit. (If only the world could be sofair!) "Universal Truths and Cycles" is also a little more varied in instrumentation with occasional tidbits of pianos and strings and even a Celtic tinged accompaniment to the "The Ids Are Alright." Who said rock is dead? Forty-four years old and  a two decade history with Guided by Voices, he may not be the new boss 
but rock's best hope is still Robert Pollard. [GH]