ALBUM REVIEW: Guided By Voices – ‘Space Gun’

7/10

As some might say, “another day, another Guided By Voices record,” and it’s something I don’t fault them for. Since the early ’80s, Robert Pollard along with a constantly changing line-up has been releasing some of the best Indie Rock that the genre has to offer. From their perfect streak of ‘Vampire on Titus’, ‘Bee Thousand’ and ‘Alien Lane’s all the way to records like ‘Earthquake Glue’ and ‘Cool Planet’; Guided By Voices record have made their mark as one of the most prolific and influential bands to have ever come out of the underground, and ‘Space Gun’ is another addition to the itinerary of reasons as to why they’re so heavily regarded to this day.

The album opens up with it’s explosive and anthemic title track that recalls the band’s heyday in the early ’90s. While it’s twice the length as the short tracks that made them such a mainstay in the first place, I fully believe that it’s lumped in with a lot of their other classic tracks. Colonel Paper is a very fun, straightforward Power Pop tune with a funny catchy chorus detailing Pollard’s abstract lyricism about eating cigarettes. One of the album’s crowning achievements is how massive everything sounds, even more so than their last couple of releases. The guitars and bass are bright and detailed, the drums are akin to anything released on Matador in the last couple of years; and while Pollard’s vocals are a little bit buried in the mix, his vocal melodies are as shining as ever and fit perfectly with the album’s dense instrumentation.

Meshed in with the collection of fast / mid-tempo Indie songs are the album’s slow burners. Ark Technician has a very hummable guitar lead and Pollard’s lyrics are as abstract as always. It honestly sounds like a Pavement B-Side during their “Wowee Zowee” days, which is something I like quite a lot. I Love Kangaroos is in a similar vein to “Ark Technician,” albeit much more subdued. The chorus/refrain of “can you consider me to be the bastard of the battle / an ambassador in good company” that Pollard repeats becomes a bit of an earworm; a very pleasant one at that. That’s Good sticks out in the tracklist quite a bit because it’s the first GBV / Pollard song I think I’ve ever heard that has some an orchestral arrangement buried within it.

The rest of the album is typical 2010s Guided By Voices fare but that isn’t a complaint in the slightest! The songs are as catchy and as fun as ever and they even managed to take a few risks with the music, e.g. the orchestral arrangement in “That’s Good.” Sport Competent National is one of the album’s highlights due to it’s repeated changes in tempo and the gang-led backing vocals repeating “getting ready, getting ready to run;” it’s incredibly fun and daring for Guided By Voices standards which makes it an obvious highlight.

Space Gun is the best album that Bob Pollard and his merry men have released in quite a while and it further proves that there’s literally nothing stopping him anytime soon. It’s very enjoyable but at the same time, it’s another late-stage Guided By Voices album but in no way should that turn newcomers and even the most hardcore fans away. 103 albums deep into his career and the only thing that’ll stop Robert Pollard will be his inevitable death, but even then – we’ll probably have other compilations of unreleased material as a result of that!

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