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Style Weekly - Richmond VA
David M Putney
Guided By Voices
Universal Truths and Cycles
Guided by Voices’ early music was more like half-finished thoughts — something a cracked genius might record on a four-track in the basement.
By last year’s “Isolation Drills,” it had evolved into something closer to what a cracked genius might record in a top studio. But on its new, high-mindedly-titled disc, the band returns not only to its indie label but also reconciles its lo-fi past with its mainstream forays.
And, front man Robert Pollard still sounds like a cracked musical genius.
Sure, he unspools a pounding, crowd-pleasing riff on “Back to the Lake,” the album’s best rocker. But Pollard is a prolific, obsessive songwriter, and his thoughts and songs fly by with more lyrical and musical ideas than the disc’s 19 songs and 46 minutes can seemingly contain. And, with lyrical opacity rivaling early R.E.M., the musings are more of a starting point.
Like creme brulee, love is too rich for Pollard’s blood on “Love 1”; depression is a welcome option on “Zap”; and on “Factory of Raw Essentials” he aims at hypocrisy, saying “you can roll away the stone and find no remnants of goodness.”
Such flitting about sounds deadly. But with GBV, you can’t stop listening.