Guided by Voices
Bee Thousand


5.0
classic

Review

by robin EMERITUS
April 16th, 2009 | 250 replies | 26,112 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: dodododododo kicker of elves

There are at least two reasons as to why Robert Pollard’s Bee Thousand, as opposed to the indie community befallen after him, will appeal to the world outside it; that is, the rock fans, the metalheads and all that. Firstly, the personality he has - constricting all ideas of delicacy, modesty and politeness - thrives on a boyish attitude. 'Uncle' Bob's arrogance instigated the idiosyncratic, quirky music movements of so many to follow, so when he performs he plays up to it; he doesn't shy away from his sing alongs, he demands that [his] music will never die and - for all his stage time - he's a self-loving drunk. With a discography that just keeps on expanding (and six releases pinned down for 2009), Robert Pollard moves from limit to limitless, more interested in being out there than writing masterpieces.

Secondly is the music. Pollard is clearly a big fan of himself, but so is he equally appreciative of pop rock. On Bee Thousand it’s noticeable - his band plays an extremely dampened version of indie, with all rock 'n' roll sentiments prioritised. In fact, his first question is Are you amplified to rock?, asked in “Hardcore UFOs”, which is seemingly prophetic of the answer: Bee Thousand opens and continues with raw rockers.

Pollard is also a fan of R.E.M., and ever since the Guided By Voices project began way back with Forever Since Breakfast, he has been living the tickled fan dream to sound exactly like them. On Bee Thousand, it seems he and Tobin Sprout find a rock ethic of their own, which is likely attributed to the hyper speed at which his tracks are played. Pollard’s attention span simply implodes which, as would later become one of Guided By Voices trademark tricks, abolishes a song as soon as it loses the tiniest hook. Catchiness is vital; songs in the one-minute region blitz through the songs biggest characteristic – the distorted, ever amplified approach to “Buzzards and Dreadful Crows”, the acoustic wilderness packed into “Yours To Keep” and “Kicker Of Elves” with its bouncy do do do hums, are all Pollard’s perfect evidence that all you need is one minute.

Whatever Pollard is singing about (which most aptly is nothing, however it often extends to experiences in his older life jobs as somehow teaching and being a father), it becomes muffled by fluctuating fuzz, which would later define the album as the lo-fi influence so many needed. Its four-track recording goes on to contribute to the comfortable, spontaneous scheme developing in Pollard’s mind, so in the longer home stretches (say, the songs that can actually change for their three minute run time) it’s hard to picture a redeveloped, freshly packaged and fixed version of Bee Thousand – to most purists, it would demean the album. “Tractor Rape Chain” is deafening, and its quiet-loud transition may as well be planned. Similarly when “I Am A Scientist” was spring-cleaned for a greatest hits edition, its crackly surface was bid farewell to, leaving nothing but Pollard’s trebly, confident voice. “I Am A Scientist” didn’t need polishing – it was already the album’s smashing hit when it could barely be heard.

Throughout the entirety of Bee Thousand you’ll probably miss something due to the distortion, the fuzz, the noise – whatever it is you call it. But in the same year as Pavement would be releasing Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, one of their many crowning accomplishments, an album far less produced and with far more heart would be plucked out of the air by the hand of Robert Pollard and accomplice Sprout. So even if “Peep-hole” is strummed by the soft rock renegade to sound as if a whisper on the wind, Bee Thousand will appeal to anyone - under any influence - to sing along to what they can just ably hear.



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user ratings (304)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
Alex Robertson STAFF (5)
Enigmatic, catchy and timeless, Bee Thousand is pretty much the definition of a classic....

Shadowed Reflection (5)
One of the Indie classics, Bee Thousand truly is quite unique....

Chris Jackson (4)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
rotterdog
April 16th 2009



487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Weird... I just downloaded this on a whim yesterday. Glad to hear it's so good.

Cigaret
April 16th 2009



7 Comments


Ridiculously good for listening to in the car.

robin
Emeritus
April 16th 2009



4241 Comments


good album.

Yotimi
April 16th 2009



6441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory rules.

gaslightanthem
April 16th 2009



5209 Comments


dodododododo kicker of elves

lol

good review, cool album

robin
Emeritus
April 16th 2009



4241 Comments


thanks

Merkaba33
April 16th 2009



702 Comments


I'm guessing you also looked at Amazon's top 100 indie albums yesterday? I noticed this album yesterday as well when they had it as # 1.

robin
Emeritus
April 16th 2009



4241 Comments


nope, haha. when i ordered my copy off amazon ages ago i remember it being pretty hard to track down. i guess that's changed

Merkaba33
April 16th 2009



702 Comments


This just further proves my point that I'm having the most strange coincidences lately. Have you guys heard of that book "The Secret"? My mom told me about it a while ago and I swear that sh*t happens all the time now.

karina
April 16th 2009



165 Comments


woah your mom read that book too so did yours

rasputin
April 16th 2009



14517 Comments


Robin, in your honest opinion, would I like this?

rasputin
April 16th 2009



14517 Comments


Great review, by the way.

karina
April 16th 2009



165 Comments


when did batman start asking that nancy boy his opinions on music

thebhoy
Emeritus
April 16th 2009



4459 Comments


apparently I need to check this out.

robin
Emeritus
April 17th 2009



4241 Comments


hahahaha.

this is pretty much essential for everyone rasp and i defientely think that means you'd like it; not overwhelming as the amount of tracks may suggest.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
April 17th 2009



862 Comments


why don't i have this? i think it's because i'm always asking myself that question instead of actually doing something about it. acquiring now, great review as usual

also, who's playing in that picture?This Message Edited On 04.17.09

robin
Emeritus
April 17th 2009



4241 Comments


emily gray and co. i'm not entirely sure which band she's playing in at this point, haha.

Yotimi
April 17th 2009



6441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is great, but if you are at all put off by poor production (although intentional in this case) you probably won't like it.

robin
Emeritus
April 17th 2009



4241 Comments


i think most people would find the production incidental, not constantly irritating.

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 28th 2009



3743 Comments


whoa missed this review
excellent read, album's a classic



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