From 1983 until 2004 Guided by Voices was a going concern, but then after years of being indie rock darlings the band broke up in 2004 . Leader Robert Pollard went on to release many solo albums and side projects including the albums From a Compound Eye(2006), Standard Gargoyle Decisions (2007) and Superman was a Rocker(2008). But, then, in 2010 , the “Classic Lineup” reunited for a show for Matador Records 21st anniversary celebration. The band subsequently announced a reunion tour which quickly sold out .At the time, Pollard said the likelihood of a new album was low but you never know.
In September 2011 that possibility came to fruition with the release of GBV’s first album since 2004 Let’s go eat the factory . “The unsinkable Fats Domino ” was the lead single and before long the band was doing TV appearances and touring non-stop . Another record Class clown spots a UFO (2012) followed and from there they released The Bears for lunch(2012), English Little League (2013), Motivational Jumpsuit (2014) , and Cool Planet( 2014).This was a pretty good run but , then suddenly, the band announced they were splitting again . The rest of that tour was cancelled and members went their separate ways .It was an exciting four years but it ended as abruptly as it had started
Or so we thought , picking things up again in 2016 the band
Or so we thought , picking things up again in 2016 the band announced a show and an album to come. Once again Guided By Voices were back . Please be Honest was the latest album and was basically a Robert Pollard solo record as he wrote all the songs and played all the instruments . This record was followed by August by Cake in 2017. This was their first ever double album clocking in with 32 tracks . This was also Robert pollard’s 100th album including solo and side projects . At this point you could say Pollard and company were off and running. Next up came How do you spell heaven (2017) which was another solid effort. Space Gun(2018) followed. I particularly like this one. I even have the shirt.
They started 2019 with their second double album Zeppelin over China.
They started 2019 with their second double album Zeppelin over China. An extremely good addition to the GBV canon. A grower for sure. It gets better with each listen .” My future in Barcelona ” is one standout track among many. Keeping this momentum going the band released Warp and Woof in April. Not content with that level of output Sweating the plague dropped in October. Guided by Voices was always known as prolific but three records a year is ambitious even for them. Well, 2020 was no different. Kicking off the proceedings was Surrender your poppy field, August brought us Mirrored Aztec with quite the artsy, psychedelic cover. Not your typical GBV cover art but very cool looking. “Thank you, Jane ” is a highlight for me here but I also like that they named the track “Please don’t be honest ” a reference to their 2016 album.
The year ends on a high note with the release of one of the best GBV albums of this era Styles we paid for. Another excellent album and the song “Never Abandon Ship” is a standout for me. 2021 was sort of a disappointment with only two albums. But, what albums they were. Starting with Earth Man Blues, this album was heralded by many music publications as their best since Alien Lanes (1995). While I do love the record I am not sure I would go that far. It’s not them, it couldn’t be them, it is them followed in October. This album featured the singles “High in the rain”, “Dance of the Gurus “, and ” My (limited) engagement “. This is probably one of their most hook-heavy albums of this era and the lead guitar work really became noticeable around this time.
Entering 2022 we have Crystal Nun’s Cathedral. More of a slow burner of a record, but some great songwriting and solid playing. Tremblers and Goggles by Rank is the latest to drop with Scalping the Guru upcoming. If it wasn’t for the quality of these releases you would question the thinking in putting out so much music in such a short period. This may not rank with the classic era of the 90s but it’s a close second.
While I think the initial reunion era releases are solid with great songs like “The unstoppable Fats Domino “, “Doughnut for a snowman ” and “The littlest league possible ” the post-2016 time for the band seems better. More prolific but also slightly better material. I certainly can’t wait to see what they come up with in 2023.