Guided by Voices
Devil Between My Toes


3.5
great

Review

by robin EMERITUS
March 14th, 2010 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: To heal you, we have love.

This is the LP debut for Guided by Voices. You can tell and you can’t.

You can tell by how tickled it is by its influences; after all, the album’s opener “Old Battery” isn't all that shy of 80’s R.E.M., and it sounds more Murmur than they ever could. “Discussing Wallice Chambers” doesn’t walk that off – in fact it digs that hole deeper, idolising rockers of the past who were more wacky for their exterior than their music: surreal poetry is a factor maybe, and perhaps the spaced out layout of the record, but never are the conventions of music sacrificed to something weirder than pop. Both tracks are verse-chorus, verse-chorus shorts, and if you’re after a history lesson that is exactly how Pollard means to go on.

But Pollard hasn’t gone anywhere just yet; in fact, Devil Between My Toes fits confidently into the band’s canon not because it is a blueprint or the shape of Pollard to come, but because it is in itself a fully realised slice of jangle pop. The record isn’t an on-off deal, either - even the instrumentals go through the wash, such as “Crux” which has no words to it and in fact nothing to dominate it but riffs and chords, and yet the interplay is typically Guided by Voices – simplistic and settled into the one sound it asks of itself, as if to prove that even without the band’s snarling vocalist, the music remains wonderfully smug.

So ultimately you can’t tell that this is a debut album because of how nothing sounds unusual. “A Portrait Destroyed By Fire” should sound hour-long to the avid fans of the band simply because the band’s rule of thumb is to never complete a song which can be left to its best minutes – usually, one or two is appropriate. This song is five minutes, man, but it captivates the attention span like any other track Pollard wrote and swiftly got distracted from. The build-up is huge and eerie thanks to some sublime guitar-work, but by the time the drums kick in, Pollard commands the song back to bliss, substituting the song’s angst and distortion for his own interpretation of the two - drunken wailing.

The album hits its peak at “Hey, Hey Spaceman”, which can coincidentally do me a favour by being a summary of the album – it shares qualities distinct of anything seminal in the band’s discography (Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Propeller, and the rest) and essentially anything up until their final release: an off-the-wall pop tune with hollow lyricism that exists solely to showcase Pollard’s charisma and undermine the talent the band probably didn’t have in musical diversity. It’s Guided By Voices because it’s idiosyncratic, but more simply because it’s rockin. To quote ‘Uncle’ Bob Pollard, “Rock and roll will never die”. Then again, I wouldn’t trust anyone who uses the word uncle without your say-so.



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user ratings (21)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
scotish
March 14th 2010


835 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

cool; so this is something from the gbv back catalogue worth getting if it's representative? lovin hte review too

porch
March 14th 2010


8460 Comments


Boring and has too much filler

robin
Emeritus
March 14th 2010


4261 Comments


definitely scot, one of my most listened to gbv albums basically.

Ponton
Emeritus
March 14th 2010


5820 Comments


love the review, yet to listen to bee thousand :/

Digging: Gates - Bloom and Breathe

Kiran
Emeritus
March 14th 2010


6002 Comments


been spinning bee thousand a lot this week thanks to you

robin
Emeritus
March 14th 2010


4261 Comments


5 star rating imminent =)

AggravatedYeti
March 14th 2010


7685 Comments


I still need to really give these guys a shot.

I will, and you know it so stfu in advance robin :D

well written as usual.

plane
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2010


6100 Comments


what the hell yeti

AggravatedYeti
March 14th 2010


7685 Comments


hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyy

I'm doing it ok lewis? haha

Romulus
March 14th 2010


8447 Comments


Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes are fantastic. Yet to get to this.

robin
Emeritus
March 14th 2010


4261 Comments


hey dylan you should check these guys out.

AggravatedYeti
March 14th 2010


7685 Comments


^

well now I don't think I will
or I'll start with the pollard side projects -- ya know, really hurt myself.

robin
Emeritus
March 14th 2010


4261 Comments


you're predictable. in a week this will be in your blog. that, or i'll have infiltrated such and done it myself.

plane
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2010


6100 Comments


who knew you were such a masochist

AggravatedYeti
March 14th 2010


7685 Comments


you're predictable.

cutting to the core.

and Lewis -- Robert's already bringing out the worst in me.

I'll Bee Thousand it up momentarily :D

robin
Emeritus
March 14th 2010


4261 Comments


pollard will tear us apart

deathschool
October 11th 2014


10479 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I fucking love the vox on A Portrait Destroyed by Fire.

Digging: Dixie Dregs - What If



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