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Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch
June 20, 2002
Hays Davis

Guided By Voices
Universal Truths and Cycles
Matador Records

On its new album, Guided By Voices whirls through 18 songs in a mere 46 minutes, but don't think GBV leader-singer Robert Pollard couldn't fill up 70 minutes of space if the need arose. In the past year, he's released several full albums under different names with different collaborators. He obviously saved some of his primo stuff for this album, however, as "Truths" easily qualifies as one of the best GBV albums in years. Longtime fans fondly recall the glory days of the band's mid-'90s albums "Bee Thousand" and "Alien Lanes," when GBV practically invented the term "lo-fi" with its lauded basement-tape songs and fragments. On "Truths," Pollard's creations are as inventive as ever, and he's still proving that his music can retain its power and charm with a full-bodied production. The contributions of guitarist Doug Gillard can't be overstated. His stinging lead guitar makes "Christian Animation Torch Carriers" soar, and his huge chords coupled with Pollard's high notes make "Eureka Signs" the best song The Who never recorded. Out of nearly 20 songs, not every moment is a must-have, as one might expect. But where the dull riffing of "Car Language" gets a bit ponderous, you get a tradeoff such as "Back to the Lake," 2 of the catchiest guitar-driven minutes you'll hear this year. B+