Highlights: Laundry And Lasers, Doughnut For A Snowman, Spiderfighter… and an odd track here and there
Guided By Voices’ latest is in no way an exceptional record. Robert Pollard has mentioned somewhere that Let’s Go Eat The Factory is the band coming back to the style of its most acclaimed works, Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand, but you have to take that with a grain of salt. Whatever monikers the man has used over the years, it’s been largely the same thing: intriguing lo-fi pop music for those suffering from A.D.D.
Pollard has probably recorded more songs than anyone in the history of indie pop. This new album features 21 tracks of various moods and lengths. As expected, some of these are half-finished ideas, but most of those ideas are good, and God knows I wish delightfully melodic beauties like “Chocolate Boy” or “Doughnut For A Snowman” ran for an additional minute or two. It’s always an uneven experience with Guided By Voices, but apart from “The Big Hat And Toy Show” (Hendrix-styled guitar is okay, but so what) and a couple of blatantly unsubstantial snippets, every track (be it a noisy and intense rocker like “Waves” or something as gorgeous and soothing as the second part of “Spiderfighter”) includes at least one terrific hook. And the songwriting is actually pretty diverse: power pop, 60’s styled garage rock, psychedelic pop, lovely acoustic strummers, etc.
This one’s for the fans, of course, but even if you aren’t: Let’s Go Eat The Factory has way too many great tunes to be ignored. I’m giving it a low eight because I love the style, however clumsy, messy and frustratingly inconsistent it might seem. The fact that your average indie band could come up with an idea this good, polish it and then milk it for over 4 minutes, just doesn’t make Pollard a lesser songwriter. By turns brilliant and throwaway-like, this is a great return to form.