Guided by Voices
English Little League


2.5
average

Review

by Alex Beebe USER (126 Reviews)
May 7th, 2013 | 47 replies | 4,055 views


Release Date: 04/30/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: At this point, it unfortunately sounds like a case of quantity over quality.

I’m pretty confident in my assumption that the universal reaction among even the most loyal of fans to the release of Guided by Voices’ fourth album in under a year was a passive “Ah.” Since their reunion in 2010, saying that Guided by Voices are eager and excited to keep releasing new material again would be an understatement, as they pumped out a whopping three full-length studio albums throughout the single year of 2012, and having already raced into 2013 with the Down by the Racetrack EP – as if an EP of material to hold us over was really necessary – the release of English Little League early into 2013 will no doubt signify a repeat in the abundance of reinvigorated Guided by Voices material that last year saw.

However, it’s a bit inevitable that English Little League really doesn’t feel like a special album at all. It seems that Guided by Voices have finally run into one of the main tribulations that results from releasing so much new material in such a short amount of time, and that’s a lack of the excitement to come out of hype and anticipation surrounding an artist’s new album releases, which before was mostly absent from the group’s third post-hiatus album The Bears for Lunch, but is now most evident in English Little League, as it’s not uncommon for the decline in care to reach its peak by a fourth installment.

Even for diehards of the group who can’t get enough of the band and would be in absolute euphoria if Guided by Voices could release a new album every week, it has to be a bit difficult to overlook the inescapable feeling of creative strain throughout the songs on English Little League. Musically, it’s really only what’s been heard before on The Bears for Lunch, Class Clown Spots a UFO, and Let's Go Eat the Factory. The only way to be remotely surprised and intrigued by this album is if you missed out on any of the three albums from last year; this can be defined as the exuberantly sunny indie rock you’d expect, with organic production and tender quirks to match. If you never get tired of that sort of thing, you’re in luck with English Little League, but for a band that is known and praised for being very imaginative with their body of work, the level of predictability here really spoils the experience. It’s kind of like going to the park and doing conventional park activities for the afternoon every day for a month; the initially fun experience really starts to wear off.

Now, this all doesn’t necessarily mean that English Little League is a bad album. Its main flaw is that creatively, it feels like Guided by Voices has mined from the same territory too much, and the well is running dry early as a result. Despite that though, it’s mostly a decently solid collection of summery indie music. A redeeming quality is that Guided by Voices don't sound tired or drained as a band in the slightest, and the performances on this are as pleasently youthful as they always are, as age thankfully hasn't gotten to their music yet. It’s not the best music the band has released by any means, but the quality is intact mostly thanks to the regular spunkiness of Tobin Sprout’s contributions to the music, who really ends up stealing the show from Robert Pollard this time around. For the sake of variety and diversity, Guided by Voices would be best advised to consider allowing Tobin to take the reins with the upcoming slew of releases from the band, which will surely come out hastily, seeing as how as of now it's uncertain when they plan on taking a breather at this point.

But that lack of diversity is really the consequences of the band, despite consisting of a reunited classic lineup, not allowing themselves nearly enough time to further grow with each other as a reunited band in between their new album releases. It’s great that the group is so excited to deliver so much material, but there are repercussions to rushing as much as they are, and English Little League thematically feeling like a band just going with the first vague ideas that randomly pop into their heads is one of them.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
breakingthefragile
May 7th 2013



2954 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Needed a review.

Romulus
May 7th 2013



8423 Comments


they really need to call it a day

robin
Emeritus
May 7th 2013



4248 Comments


At this point, it unfortunately sounds like a case of quantity over quality.


at THIS point!!!!!

breakingthefragile
May 7th 2013



2954 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Surprisingly Robin, I only just recently started getting tired of their restless rate of output. Down by the Racetrack was the point where I was just like, alright guys, let's take a break before this gets REALLY old, but alas. Btw, thoughts on this album? (or any of their last three for that matter)

Romulus
May 7th 2013



8423 Comments


i think it's safe to say that the post-reunion stuff has all been the same shtick

omnipanzer
May 7th 2013



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

GBV is GBV is GBV, if you're a fan you'll probably like this imho.

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

Romulus
May 7th 2013



8423 Comments


i kinda disagree with that. i think that people who have listened to every gbv release pre-reunion (that is not me) have the least incentive to check these out

i was on board for the first couple of these new albums but i really don't have the patience to listen to the same 2.5-3 level album x100000000 when i could just listen to like everything else in their discography

robin
Emeritus
May 7th 2013



4248 Comments


GBV is GBV is GBV, if you're a fan you'll probably like this imho.


boooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Romulus
May 7th 2013



8423 Comments


i'm just going to defer to you if you don't mind

omnipanzer
May 7th 2013



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I got burnt out with their stuff years ago (I'm an Ohioan and have been inundated with them since my teen years) and have only in the last few months been trying to get caught up.

Perhaps that is the difference?

omnipanzer
May 7th 2013



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"boooooooooooooooooooooooooo"
It's a one sentence review what were you hoping for? ;-)

bakkermaarten007
May 7th 2013



3399 Comments


meh, too bad.

kitsch
May 7th 2013



5107 Comments


robin tell me what you think about this gbv reunion business

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
May 7th 2013



12851 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

WRONG OPINION GOODBYE

Digging: Dinosaur Jr. - J Mascis Live at CBGB's

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 7th 2013



23804 Comments


we'll always have Bee Thousand

robin
Emeritus
May 7th 2013



4248 Comments


robin tell me what you think about this gbv reunion business


fuck it

robin
Emeritus
May 7th 2013



4248 Comments


also sorry for ignoring your questions alex; not intended. haven't listened to this album, really don't care about gbv at all anymore. half smiles was so, so perfect to me and it's childish to feel like this is tarnishing that particular goodbye to their career, but.. yeah

kitsch
May 7th 2013



5107 Comments


you were excited about it when we used to chat on fb all the time a few years ago !

robin
Emeritus
May 7th 2013



4248 Comments


i was young and foolish

RadicalEd
May 8th 2013



2588 Comments


Never got into this band. Don't get the appeal.



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