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Guided by Voices : Review – Let’s Go Eat the Factory

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Guided by Voices : Review – Let’s Go Eat the Factory

Remember that band that your friend was in for a couple years in early high school? They practiced in that guy’s garage every Thursday, and played at the school talent show a couple of times, and they were always talking about when they were going into the studio to record their demo and how they were booking a tour for spring break or maybe summer or maybe next year, and the guitar player (his name was either Kurt or Dustin, you can’t remember) had really long hair and claimed he slept with his “ax,” and yet somehow you only ever heard them play the same four songs they seemed to have written years ago. They were nice enough guys (even when they were drunk, which was most of the time), but you had a sneaking suspicion that their career prospects in the music industry were not, shall we say, particularly auspicious.

Guided by Voices is kind of like what that band would sound like if, by freak chance, they stumbled into a record deal and then continued stumbling through more than 15 records and almost 25 years of music. A lot has changed since their high-school-talent-show days: if there’s one thing you probably weren’t expecting to hear on Let’s Go Eat The Factory (which is, by the way, GBV’s reunion record – they disbanded in 2004), it’s probably a string section. But mostly Let’s sounds like more of the same; GBV has a reputation for a lo-fi, unpolished ethos, and they certainly have no problems serving up a no-bones basement-band record that would fits neatly within their oeuvre. (This is probably due at least in part to the fact that Let’s features the “classic” line-up of frontman Robert Pollard, Mitch Mitchell, Greg Demos and Kevin Fennel, who together recorded the best-known GBV albums.) To the millennial generation, Guided by Voices sound like a less-saccharine Weezer, or a less-intellectual Talking Heads.

If I sound like I’m not that excited by this record, it’s because I’m not. It’s not terribly interesting music and most of the tracks are so short (its 42 minutes are divided into 21 songs) that it’s hard to, uh, care about any of them. But on the other hand, there is a sort of charming, sketch-like honesty to LGEATF, as if Pollard & Co.’s slapdash style is less impatience and more grunge-era aversion to the overwrought pop of the ‘80s. It seems a little knee-jerk, perhaps, but songs like the beautifully wistful “Doughnut for a Snowman” and the jangly “Chocolate Boy” are enough to make the album worth a listen.

Guided By Voices – Waves

Guided By Voices – Doughnut For A Snowman

Guided by Voices on Letterman perform "The Unsinkable Fats Domino"

Guided by Voices is an American indie rock band formed in 1983 in Dayton, Ohio. It has made frequent personnel changes but always maintained the presence of principal songwriter Robert Pollard, who founded the group with guitarists Mitch Mitchell, Tobin Sprout, Jim Pollard, and drummer Kevin Fennell. Wikipedia

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