"Is Off to Business"
Guided By Voices
Genre: indie rock
June 20 2008
Robert Pollard Is Off to Business is the songsmith's
first full-length offering for his new Guided By Voices Inc. label.
And in the spirit of change, seven of this disc's ten tracks make it
past the three-and-a-half minute mark, making it a considerable
departure from Pollard's more fragmented material. Indeed,
Off to Business is a studio-polished collection of pop and rock
songs that harkens back to the old (but not old old) GBV days
of Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. And as it stands,
songwriting-wise, it is one of Pollard's most successful albums
in recent memory - considerably better than the inconsistent Normal
Happiness, the last album of his I covered.
To put it clearly, Off to Business is a solid collection of
powered rock gems and slower pop opuses. As is and always will be true
with Pollard's output, some songs are decisively better than
others. For example, "Western Centipede" has great energy but is
lacking on the melodic front, and peppy opener "The Original Heart"
lacks lasting hooks. Meanwhile, Pollard scores winners with prog-rock
wonder "No One But I" and psychedelia-drenched anthem "Wealth and
Hell-Being," the best song on this record.
It is uncanny how skilled Pollard is at crafting brilliant
melodies that are both instantly infectious and remarkably lasting. It
makes sense, then, that the quality of any Pollard album is
largely proportional to its songs' ability to "hook" you. That's what
separates a Bee Thousand from a Do the Collapse. And
with an impressive hit-to-miss ratio, Off to Business ranks among
Pollard's best solo efforts. Though it doesn't break any barriers
creativity-wise, it's still got that fascinatingly entertaining sound
that endeared the indie masses to GBV in the nineties. It's
nice to have you back, Mr. Pollard.
[Vitals: 10 tracks, distributed by
released June 2, 2008]