Guided by Voices Earthquake Glue

[Matador; 2003]

Styles: indie rock, lo-fi
Others: Robert Pollard, Pavement, Bob Mould, Cheap Trick

The problem with this, the jillionth Robert Pollard record, the zillionth Guided by Voices album, is that it feels exactly such, and not anything more. The disciples are tight, but Jesus seems non-committal. Would it be too much to ask, “Hey, you gave us a dark, wonderful 'King-of-Pain record,' how’s about a brilliant and balmy 'fallin’ in love' platter?” Yeah it would be, and there’s nothing wrong with the direction here anyway. This is crisp riff rock, proggy metallic genre stuff, but it doesn’t have to sound so generically GBV. It wouldn’t be too much to demand near-greatness from a band that has evolved from dusty art-garagistes into ampy big beat bombers, and continued to more or less deliver the goods. (Yes, there were some cringe moments, but many more underrated platters.) Last year's Universal Truths and Cycles was over-long and stretchy at times, but the highlights were high. Where Earthquake Glue takes off, at the album's center, it does begin to shine. But not as brilliantly as one hopes: “The Best of Jill Hives” is close to wonderful, and the two songs that flank it are bolts of lean goodness. But none of this carries an album.

So save your money, kids. Check out one of Pollards side-projects, Lifeguards, Phantom Tollbooth, or Circus Devils. Or sock it away for the box set due in November. If there’s one thing Bob inspires, and one thing he deserves, it is giddy, childlike, Christmas-style faith.

1. My Kind of Soldier
2. My Son, My Secretary, and My Country
3. I'll Replace You with Machines
4. She Goes Off at Night
5. Beat Your Wings
6. Useless Inventions
7. Dirty Water
8. The Best of Jill Hives
9. Dead Cloud
10. Mix Up the Satellite
11. The Main Street Wizards
12. A Trophy Mule in Particular
13. Apology in Advance
14. Secret Star
15. Of Mites and Men

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