Mid-Season Pollard Report

…..In various guises, Robert Pollard puts out about 7-13 albums a year (post Guided By Voices).  The popular theory is that Bob needs and editor, and gives his fans WAY too much to sort through.  Here at Total Echo, we believethat maybe his fans are simply not prepared to deal with the wealth of material available….. 

Space City Kicks – I never understood the continuing “prog” references to Pollard’s work*.  I equate that term with spacey Yes-ish meanderings, primarily of an instrumental or semi-mystical variety.  What Pollard repeatedly gives us is strange music that seems like part of a very long, natural path.  He’s written so many countless songs, that this sort of evolution seems natural (and is done very well via Circus Devils).  Space City Kicks gives of some of this weirdness, but in a very processable form.  The songs are quick and the album is short.  Interspersed are some memorable highlights (“Strawberry” and “Touch Me In the Right Place at the Right Time” ) as well as some head-scratching, tepid warblers (“Children Ships” “Sex She Said”).  Construction-wise, Todd Tobias provides the music and production, Bob provides the tunes.  The formula may be usual, but the results are slightly different.  Space City Kicks pulls off something that’s very hard to do: efficient artsyness.  (7/10)

Mars Classroom – New Theory of Everything – Bob takes a slight power-pop break with  Gary Waleik (Big Dipper) and Robert Beerman (Pell Mell).  Generally, when Bob hooks up with new contributors, the results are refreshingly interesting; this is certainly the case here.  Mars Classroom delivers a softer, poppy sound that perfectly fits these amber-toned catchy numbers.  Standouts include “She Wants Man, Wine, Power” which may have invented a new mild-yacht-club type of single, and “I Am an All Star”, one of the softest, simplest Pollard cuts in awhile (a’la “People are Leaving”).  There’s still a fraction of CLUGGERS ** (“Pre-Med” “Bug Boy”), but the influx of fresh collaborators make for a soft, atmospheric  Pollard-catalog anomaly.  (7/10)

Lord of the Birdcage – Same team as Space City (Tobias + Bob), but with very different results.  This time Bob sifted through some old poetry for lyrics (which one wouldn’t think would be that different).  More obtuse and robust than a standard Bob solo joint, this record showcases his versatility as a songwriter.  Listeners get a chorus made simply of the word “aversion” ; “Garden Smarm” informs us to “chain the lawnmower down for the winter” ; and “Ribbon of Fat” could be Bob channeling his inner Joe Walsh (in a reasonable way).  Still a few CLUGGERS, but overall one of the strongest straight-up Bob solo records of the last 4-9.3 months.  (8/10)

* here, here, and here.

**CLUGGERS {new term} : meaning the “in-between” songs on an album.  Not bad, not filler.  Imagine an album as an engine, CLUGGERS are the pistons.  They keep it running.  {Usually ascribed positions like: 4, 7, 9, etc. on ablums…….}

Also look for a busy Bob in second half of 2011, Boston Spaceships has a new doulbe ablum that looks promising, and who knows after that…..

This entry was posted in music, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s