Never write off a Guided By Voices album. What at first sometimes sounds like a grey sludgy mess can in time reveal itself as pop confectionary of the highest order. Take Motivational Jumpsuit, the penultimate 'classic line-up' reunion album. It has a pleasingly crunchy mid-fi production through which emerge shards of classic songwriting with the added bonus of some Tobin Sprout gems. Nice price too on this (at the time of writing).
CD £5.49 FIRECD337
CD on Fire. CHEAP!!!.
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Vinyl LP £9.49 FIRELP337
LP on Fire. CHEAP!!!.
Tape £7.49 FBP005
Tape on Bad Paintings / Fire. Edition of 250 copies.
They may be noted as one of the more prolific bands in rock but of late I’ve wondered if their albums really are albums at all. They all seem to have about 8 or 9 great tracks and a slew of filler that you’ll just skip next time you play it.
‘Class Clown Spots a UFO’ was a stone cold classic, start to finish but of their other three post -reformation albums you’d probably get a brilliant full lengther by picking out the best bits and making your own greatest hits. But those good bits are so good that you’ll happily forgive them for the odd underwhelming moment. They seem to construct great hooks out of almost nothing on a regular basis which often leaves you gasping for breath at the sheer economy of it all.
Here, the first three tracks pass by without anything so obvious as a tune appearing out of the speakers. ‘Planet Score’ is the first great track and thats number five on the list. The choppy downwards guitar is completely infectious. This is GBV at their very best and its amazing that they can still pull this sort of stuff off without blinking. They are obviously so pleased with the chord progression that its re-used on ‘Save the Company’ (and part of it later on on 'Zero Elasticity’).
Tobin Sprout writes the same song over and over again but its a very good one, his songs have been some of the highlights of recent album and he’s well represented here; ‘Jupiter Spin’, ‘Calling Up Washington’ and ‘Shine’ are all glistening examples of his personal brand of charming melodic pop. Pollard’s songs are tougher, discordant at times and often sounding tossed off and rushed but as I’ve found on recent albums, the hooks come through later and I’m left with egg on my face for having ever doubted him.
I really like the production on this album, they seem to have completely nailed that ‘mid-fi’ sound, the songs wrestle themselves into your ears and are wonderfully brash and crunchy. The main thing thats bothering me at this moment in time is I can’t immediately hear those insidious pop hooks. Time and a few more listens will tell.
8/10 Nc 6th February 2015
I did a review of the Save the Company single from last year. In it I claimed that it sounded more like an album track than a potential single. Having heard it in the context of the album, it actually sounds like one of the stand-out tracks, coming as it does in the third of a sequence (Planet Score and Jupiter Spin precede it, also singles) in the middle of the LP, that just brings it to life.
All GBV albums need repeated listens to get to the essence of what made them great, and that means start-to-finish with all the duff tracks that you think you hate at first but get used to on repeat. Of the six "comeback" albums they put out before ceasing, I think Class Clown was the best. Motivational Jumpsuit might come just after that as it sounds unified. A quick look at the credits suggest that the tracks were scattered between several producers - shows what I know!
8/10 gbv fan 13th February 2014
Track 1 and 3 are great! Surprised you weren't as into them as some of the others. In fairness it was an album that took a few listens to gel.
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- Motivational Jumpsuit by Guided By Voices
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