Review Summary: ...and a very Pollard New Year.
The thing about Guided by Voices is--and I will attempt very hard to tread around cliché here--I’ve listened to barely half of their albums in full and still consider them one of my favorite bands. Is this solely due to the fact that I, like many, would heavily consider Bee Thousand
, Alien Lanes
, and Under the Bushes Under the Stars
for “desert island album” status and could really care little about the rest, a few select tracks aside? Well, yes and no. I haven’t yet developed enough of a craze to force me to get my paws on anything with the name Pollard on it, but it’s more than enough to make two Guided by Voices albums due for release in 2012 a more than entertaining prospect.
So how to approach the band’s umpteenth release, Let’s Go Eat the Factory
? GBV, for one, is throwing a bit of a “new look” curve at us. It’s been eight years since an LP was released under the band’s name, nearly twice that since an effort from the now-reunited, classic Pollard-Sprout-Mitchell-Demos lineup, and to top it off, the record is slated for release on New Year’s Day. This in itself is amusing, as the album neither harkens back to the heydays of the classic quartet, nor does it reinvent the wheel-- at all. Factory
feels somewhere stuck between the backwash of some latter-day GBV records and an enhanced version of the same old shtick that Pollard was churning out on his own before the reunion.
That, however, doesn’t necessarily prevent it from being enjoyable. At its best, Factory
puts together a string of quality tracks-- the giddy duo of “Doughnut for a Snowman” and the three-and-half minute-plus “Spiderfighter”, for one-- and at its worst occasionally rises from the murk and strikes gold. “Waves” is probably the best song associated with Robert Pollard in some eight years (see what I did there?), and the fourth quartile of the album provides more than a few choice cuts. True, it doesn’t work as a whole nearly as well as its predecessors did, but who could have expected it to?
Nothing here near approaches the genius of that fantastic string of mid-nineties releases, or even recalls the energy of the band’s newer, Half Smiles of the Decomposed-era work. Viewed in the shadow of those albums, Let’s Go Eat the Factory
could easily be considered a failure. But then why view it as such? It’s a new Guided by Voices album for the New Year. Amplify yourself to rock, listen to it, and consider yourself lucky, punk.