Like the Fall, we all stopped counting the number of Guided By Voices albums sometime around 14 years ago. Unlike the Fall though Robert Pollard’s off-centre guitar rockers have semi disappeared for a few years on one or two occasions, only to return, in some form or other, out of near nowhere with a load of new material.
Admittedly, this writer kinda lost the love several years ago, despite some fine moments on those GBV MKII materials. But it’s as if the joke was now, finally, after all these years, starting to wear off; quality of material becoming thinner and thinner. Only to be expected, ‘spose, they did spoil us for years, after all.
And listening to new album ‘How Do You Spell Heaven’ you feel a certain affection for the welcome sense of resigned cogency (there’s an almost consistent spark and sheen here lacking in just too many previous LPs by the group; as though they’ve finally got a grip on reality while everyone has long given up on the idea that they ever could).
Interestingly, you can hear little chord reworkings and signs that hark back to their mid 90s period (the group’s best). A touch sorrowful, actually. One thing– well, two things– we can say about GBV; just like M E Smith and his crew, once you hear their records you just know it’s them, and also, whatever it is Pollard is singing about, you know in your heart you probably agree with him.