Review Summary: What exactly is a concept album, anyway?
Some of my favourite lyricism is played out through Bee Thousand
. It’s everywhere; the jangle-pop fantasy of Dodododododo/Kicker of elves
and the one minute unravelling epic told in “The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory” (listening is believing). None of it really makes sense, but why should it? That’s seemingly Pollard’s game: write a song, but make sure it makes no sense. Still, that’s the very same album that Pollard taunts Are you amplified to rock?
, and yes - this is his crystal clear moment of musicianship. On his latest and second 2008 release, that same word pops up again – rock
. The fuss-free Robert Pollard is Off to Business
is ten tracks of insistence; here’s an indie juggernaut just crying to loosen the trap and become a rock star again.
And yet still, this rock set-up predictability is the same thing that makes Business
actually standout from every other Pollard related album. Unlike a lot of content he’s dribbled out with, Business
is a clean cut escapade; it’s chopped down to ten tracks, but scaled up to thirty-five minutes (a typical running time in his respects). With that in mind, maybe all Pollard wants is to make a more whole, rounded album – don’t write him off for impatience with this, because there’s even the odd complimentary ballad as well: “The Blondes” is the most noticeable, swelling with heroic guitar riffs and some half-hearted sung weirdness - On your birthday grab a mask, run away
disguised by as many riffs and chords as is possible.
At the same time that this awkward-ish classic-rock homage is forcing Pollard’s music to its stalest form, it’s easy to notice he is really being by simply playing to his preferences, even if they may not necessarily be his strengths. He manages to get the blend splendidly well at times, the spooky cries of We’ve made up our minds!
in “To The Path!” enforcing an emphatic sound that isn’t in context his signature sound (in that it’s not sounding too similar to Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Coast To Coast Carpet of Love
), but isn’t trying too hard to irritate picky fans with a crazy new sound. Most of the album can stick to this unremarkable formula in the same way, with “Gratification to Concrete” providing the pop-piece saved by quirkiness, and “No one But I” being the eerie halt for variety.
In the end, every one of Pollard’s recent bouts haven’t actually been bogged down by whether they have ‘rock’ or ‘indie connotations, but instead because of Pollard’s impatient craving for content, content, content. This even overrides Pollard’s ‘latest’ (by the time you’ve read this, two more albums will have inevitably taken its place) tiny, ten track bout. So far, the album has become subject to old and new fans quickly branding it “prog-influenced” and unlovable thus. These outbursts of weird labelling are quite simply all wrong. All Robert Pollard is off for Business
is, is another typical showing of the said musician’s ability to find himself writing music in the wrong time and wrong genre, for all the right reasons. To exaggerate in the same way “The Blondes” does, Pollard has released hundreds of albums of the same music - but here’s to a merry hundred more.