Guided By Voices
Crystal Nuns Cathedral
Guided by Voices Inc.
Incessantly prolific as always, Guided by Voices’ 35th album shows the American indie-rockers aren’t ready to put down the guitars just yet, with Robert Pollard’s latest incarnation still having a wealth of material to play with.
Admittedly it sometimes feels like a band going through the rounds, with the thick drum and guitar textures getting a tad stifling. Some of the most successful moments are when the guitars lighten up, with the strings in “Eye City” and skittish hi-hat beats in “Climbing a Ramp” helping diffuse the old-rocker syndrome, keeping things varied.
Despite this, the pure energy and thrills in the performance overcome any shortcomings. In full post-punk glory, the riffs are direct, getting straight to the point (which is useful considering how short the songs are). Songs like “Eye City” have a calm and collected confidence, each beat and chord change knowing and deliberate — always fully in control.
There’s a more whimsical approach to rock found here, mixing the guitars and drums with Pollard’s folk-like voice — like a latter-day Peter Gabriel/Richard Dawson offspring. The jangly guitars and waltz melody on “Re-Develop” feel especially like early ’70s Genesis, combined with a post-punk brevity that keeps things short and sweet.
If you’re worrying that you’ll never catch up with their constant stream of output, highlights like “Excited Ones“ and “Mad River Man“ provide plenty of the earworms on display. They may be set in their ways, but if you’re looking for a band with quantity and quality tied firmly together, look no further.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: GUIDED BY VOICES – CRYSTAL NUNS CATHEDRAL