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Guided by Voices - Earth Man Blues Music Album Reviews

Guided by Voices - Earth Man Blues Music Album Reviews
The garage-rock institution rolls on with a loosely conceptual album that is equally inconsistent and ingenious, containing some of Robert Pollard’s most direct lyricism.

Is it better to be a long-running band making pretty good music, or is it preferable to craft several classic albums and burn out into the night? Oddly enough, Guided By Voices has managed to do both. They have obvious classics (Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes), and they’ve managed to produce at least one good song every year they’ve existed. This is why for their adoring and long-loving fanbase, it’s easy to call oneself an “eternal GBV fan,” as Jay Carney, Amazon’s PR flack and former Obama press secretary, does; Beto O’Rourke is obviously a fan as well.

Even with the approval of these Gen Xers-turned-politicians, Guided By Voices still feels outside the mainstream. This might come from the fact that the formula (echoey vocals, tin-can guitar riffs, and bizarre lyrics) just hasn’t changed, making the band feel as if it’s permanently sealed in the past. Pollard has called Earth Man Blues, their latest album and the band’s 33rd release, both a “collage of rejected songs” and a loose concept musical “focused on the growth of young Harold Admore Harold through a coming of age and a reckoning with darkness.” This all sounds very ambitious, but “collage of rejected songs” could also describe most Guided By Voices albums, and since the band has often generated escapes into childlike reverie peppered with darkness, the concept-album-focused-on-childhood idea seems like a repetitive, tacked-on frame. If you ignore that framing, you’re left with a GBV album, equally inconsistent and ingenious, containing some of Pollard’s most direct lyricism.

On “Trust Them Now,” Pollard exhorts Harold to embrace life: “Let filthy toxic visions be destroyed/With every expectation for a boy/To find happiness but not joy.” The swaying ballad “The Disconnected Citizen,” is a rare thing: the (vaguely) topical GBV song that reflects on growing political malaise. It’s as if the growing absurdities of life have begun to plague Pollard to the point where sheer abstraction doesn’t cut it anymore.

Like all GBV albums, it’s slipshod and freewheeling. The acoustic opening of “Lights Out In Memphis Egypt” drifts into a rocker that never seems to know where to begin or where to end; a synth progression is added at one moment, only for all the instruments to drop out in the next. It feels like a sketch of something grander. “The Batman Sees the Ball” sounds like something from the GBV song generator, and it resembles hundreds of similar surreal jams of the band’s past. Pollard’s skewed portrait of a pinch-hitter who can send a ball into space is funny in a deflating way, like hearing a once-funny joke told for the eighth time.

Also like GBV albums, there are bright spots, and they make dismissing the band harder than it should be. “Sunshine Girl Hello” has a glowing ’60s guitar lick that animates its darkly intimate lyrics about unrequited love, while album closer “Child’s Play” elevates the simplicity of its doubled guitar noodling with a buzzing harmony that mirrors the boundless energy of its lyrics: “Child’s play is wanton.” Intentionally or not, that phrase hits at the modus operandi of the band: There’s always the belief that by throwing it all out there, you’ll land on something like “How Can a Plumb Be Perfected.” On the song, Pollard finds wonder in the everyday—in a typical bit of Pollardian obfuscation, it’s unclear whether he’s contemplating a piece of fruit or an arcane land-surveying tool, but the awe in his voice is palpable: “How can a plumb be for all time still completely perfect?/I sit around always thinking about how?” It’s an odd image, but by noting every little moment, he inadvertently captures beauty. Being a fan of this band means actively waiting for these moments to happen. Behind the aimlessness, Pollard projects a grand ambition that can’t be summarized in a single story: To create a body of work so sprawling that fans spend their entire lives listening to find hits as great as the song that hooked them.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Guided by Voices - Earth Man Blues Music Album Reviews Guided by Voices - Earth Man Blues Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 Rating: 5

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