Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Album review: GUIDED BY VOICES - Class Clown Spots A UFO

Highlights: He Rises! Our Union Bellboy, Forever Until It Breaks, Class Clown Spots A UFO, Keep It In Motion, Starfire

Talking about a work of art. There’s something disconcerting about knowing that an album you enjoy was written over breakfast. Well, exaggerations aside, this still looks slightly preposterous: Class Clown Spots A UFO is the second album out of three Robert Pollard releases over the course of one single year under the Guided By Voices moniker. Pretty much like Let’s Go Eat The Factory, Class Clown is a kind of predictably good album I love and then hate myself for it.

It’s obvious that at this point in time being a GBV is a bonus and a blessing. Pollard just keeps knocking them out, 20-song outbursts of melodic, half-baked, DIY delights we all keep expecting from him. And so what if his newest only has about three songs you would find indispensable and would immediately want to include on that imaginary Guided By Voices best-of that will never happen (for objective reasons) – it’s all consistent, well-written stuff. Class Clown has time for both: for showcasing Pollard’s excellent guitar playing and, most importantly, the man’s amazing songwriting skills. Melodically, this stuff is rooted in the 60’s pop music, and Robert manages to make the most of it, moving from beautifully orchestrated and absolutely gorgeous (if brief; “Chain To The Moon”, “Starfire”) to all rough and garagey (“Hang Up And Try Again”, “Jon The Croc”).

As ever with Guided By Voices, picking highlights is a gruesome task. This time I went for the ones that hit me particularly hard on the third listen. I should probably give this one a 7, but then it’s not any worse than Let’s Go Eat The Factory… Am I ready to take on Pollard’s third in a year? Well, maybe not right now, but ask me again in a month or two.


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