Review Summary: This EP isn’t even ten minutes long, but these tracks accomplish quite a lot in such short amounts of time.
The release of three entire studio albums in one year showed Guided by Voices to be quite the busy beavers in 2012, and kicking off 2013 with the nine minute EP Down by the Racetrack
and already making plans for more albums coming soon means that 2013 will see the band just as constant in their material. Four of the six tracks on Down by the Racetrack
only surpass a minute and thirty seconds in length, - the shortest of them being the not even fifty second long “Amanda Gray” - but each of the few songs are dedicated to different sides of the band’s personality and convey the styles in a gleefully short and sweet manner.
The deliberately low quality of opening song “It Travels Faster Through Thin Hair" casts an intentionally lo-fi tone that resonates throughout the EP, which generally gives Down by the Racetrack
the feel of a demo tape, an unexpected touch for a band so far into their careers. Every song shares the quirky indie and obscure alternative rock characteristics that Guided by Voices fans will come to expect, but songs like the disjointed and scratchy “Standing in a Puddle of Flesh" serve as the perfect yin to the yang of the whimsical and serene atmosphere of “Copy Zero”, and both work as hushed counterparts to the more harsher guitar effects on rocking tracks like the longest song at two minutes and thirty seconds “Pictures of the Man” and the self titled album closer “Down by the Racetrack”. Ultimately, though there’s not many tracks, there’s a lot of variety in the few that are on Down by the Racetrack
The EP sort of acts as a sampler platter of what to generally expect from the band, it spends its short amount of time showing off what the group already has instead of introducing something new for them, but it gets the job done through bite sized songs; making listening to this EP similar to eating a bag of candy. You consume it rather quickly, but you do so because it’s so delicious that you just can’t resist, and you feel good afterwards and crave more, which is what a good sampler accomplishes.