Guided By Voices’ leader Robert Pollard is back with another solo outing (his twenty-fourth(!)), a suite of classically rock-based tunes and dextrous songwriting.. One track even has an appearance from that deliciously proggy instrument, the mellotron. Of Course You Are is released on the Fire America label.
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So what is going on with Robert Pollard? First up he ‘reforms’ Guided By Voices all by himself and probably makes their worst album ever. Some achievement as anyone who has listened to ‘Cool Planet’ will attest. In the very same week he releases his latest solo album which sounds more of a ‘band’ album. Yet again Pollard has utilised his fresh faced new boy Mitchell (Nick) to play all the instruments. A good idea considering the mess Pollard made of playing all the instruments himself on the GBV record.
Who’d want to be Pollard's instruments guy? Get given some tossed off chords to attempt to turn into a memorable hook only to have your master holler lazily over the top? Having said that, if you were forced at gunpoint to buy one of the two between this and the ‘Guided By Voices’ effort I’d probably choose this. It’s packed full of fair to middling power pop songs of which there are a few excellent highlights. ‘My Daughter Yes She Knows’ is a stonking opener which still manages to sound rather underwritten but at least Pollard is trying here. The instrumentation is crisp and melodic throughout - nicely mid-fi without the dreary ‘experimentalism’/ dicking about that has marred the last few GBV efforts. ‘Little Pigs’ is particularly wholesome with big chunky chord changes and some complex melodies ‘neath Pollard’s mature vocals. Mitchell tries to spoil it with some syn-horn yet it still manages to be pretty good.
All this effort, all these in tune guitars, all the vocals that have actually been worked out beforehand are still are not a patch on his earlier work but at least this is a passable and listenable album from a artist whose music has lost it’s sense of fun and flavour over recent year as he drags his once brilliant band’s name through the mud.
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