Saturday, 8 December 2012

Album review: GUIDED BY VOICES - The Bears For Lunch

Highlights: King Arthur The Red, Waving At Airplanes, White Flag, She Lives In An Airport, You Can Fly Anything Right, Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere

Considering Robert Pollard’s astonishing (and astonishingly erratic) body of work, the fact that this is the third release of Guided By Voices in 2012 just isn’t all that surprising. What remains surprising, however, is how many classic, truly timeless pop melodies Pollard (and, to a lesser extent, Tobin Sprout) has in him. It may be uneven, it may be underdeveloped, it may be too messy – but the sheer number of amazing tracks on any GBV album is still something to behold.

The Bears For Lunch fits any sort of bill. Before I got this album, I’d heard people talk about how this is Pollard’s best set of songs since Alien Lanes or even Bee Thousand… I don’t know. I just don’t see it that way. As much as I love those two albums, I’ve never considered them as particular highlights in Guided By Voices extensive catalogue. For me, Robert Pollard has always been consistently inconsistent in his sprawling, undeniable greatness. Having said all that, The Bears For Lunch is one of his very, very best.

On this one, Pollard seriously cuts down on the number of deliberate tidbits and throwaways: whether it’s garage rock outbursts (“Hangover Child”), power pop chimers (“White Flag”), heavenly pop ‘hits’ (“Waving At Airplanes” is one of Tobin’s loveliest and jangliest ever) or gentle acoustic beauties (“You Can Fly Anything Right” is so gorgeous it hurts), it all works. An album to be lost in – albeit for a short period of time.

There’s absolutely no question that The Bears For Lunch is the strongest album by Guided By Voices from 2012. If Let’s Go Eat The Factory was a low 8, Class Clown Spots A UFO was a mid-level 8, then The Bears For Lunch is a high 8. Consider it a low 9 on a good day – it’s that good.


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