Review Summary: Champions officially!
How many songs have you listened to that you could imagine yourself writing more than you could its original brainchild? For that matter, has this ever applied to music that no one cared about in the first place?
I merely ask because whenever I listen to Robert Pollard, I secretly am disheartening myself. It’s plain to a fan that, bluntly, you care more than he does. Was Bee Thousand
supposed to be a classic? A heartily under produced, barely attached twenty songs that talk about such themes as kicking elves, getting wet, and most importantly: nothing. To anyone who cares enough, it simply was not designed to be as groundbreaking as they believe. The pattern repeats itself all too much in Guided By Voices’s discography; here lies just under nine hundred songs, on a good day spread over more than two minutes, resembling impatience. This impatience isn’t even rational; getting one album out of the way to make another album with the same ideas, as fast as possible, over and over again. So, with context plaguing my mind, I must again remind myself – why is Under The Bushes Under The Stars
If anything, Under The Bushes Under The Stars
implies that the shorter the attention span, the better music gets. Blissfully unfinished ideas are everywhere; they are present as the half-sentimental “Bright Paper Werewolves” breaks from its quietly subtle verse to its desperately emotive chorus – one of each, with a thirty second split and only one instrument to show for it. Again, “To Remake The Young Flyer” triumphs in discovering just one thing, without really expanding beyond swirls of guitar and a brief, thunderous pause that makes Guided By Voices the listening experience they create. A song so inconsistent you wonder if it were improvised, only to abruptly create two or three seconds of intensity, which never again will return.
At the same time, Under The Bushes Under The Stars
is an oddity in that it is the first encounter with a truly ‘epic’ Pollard creation. As briefly as “Rhine Jive Click” has provided some instant fun, there “Cut Out Witch” unexpectedly arrives. It comes out in drivels and drabs, a menacingly speedy song disguised as sinister and slow. It’s another busy day for the cut-out witch/cold needles in her eyes then we realise/it’s another busy day for the cut-out witch
accolade the rather unaware brilliance perfectly. “Redmen and their Wives” enjoys the novella eeriness once more, with a somewhat atmospheric backdrop of chimes for what is otherwise a delicately transiting rock ballad. So much can be crammed into three minutes on Under The Bushes Under The Stars
that could be so hard to contain so vaguely to other artists. These peculiar giants of tunes somehow make a more bizarre listening experience than all the jangle pop abound on the record, and ultimately make Pollard’s ninth record his most adventurous, and yet most satisfying.
Under The Bushes Under The Stars
has impulse reactions, and that is simultaneously how it remains passionate. As quickly as “The Official Ironmen Rally Song” has monotonously opened, suddenly Pollard’s voice is pouring with uplifting emotion. In the space of seconds on “Acorns & Orioles”, layers of atmosphere emerge from nowhere and Pollard drones I can’t tell you anything/You don’t already know
in such an outlandishly human tone that it resembles no other track of his, let alone Under The Bushes Under The Stars
. “No Sky”, again, is one of the most unexpectedly beautiful tracks to my mind; bemusing in its Indie guitar-rock characteristics in a suddenly inconsolable cry of When I’m alone/I can see no sky
. It changes again, back to the acoustic “Bright Paper Werewolves” which sounds nothing alike, and yet is scarcely different in its obvious hopelessness.
Even when with overly-enthusiastic cries of You can do the pollute!
bid farewell to the listener on “Take To The Sky”, Under The Bushes Under The Stars
is only completed as a technicality. Somehow, it is better off this way – twenty four half constructed songs that Robert Pollard and his happy family only cared to share a sample of. The rest, happily enough, is for your imagination to finish off in the ways they never really needed to. Under The Bushes Under The Stars
is Guided By Voice’s defining moment, cast as the go-between with the intimate lo-fi albums that predated it, and the questionable formalities that took after it. It has a wilderness of its own that becomes more emotionally resonating than any other Indie classic. They finally left/in obscurity and misery
is certainly no lie.