Somewhere in the list of the musically inevitable, Robert Pollard putting out another album ranks close to the top. Since he first tasted success with Guided by Voices breakout album Bee Thousand in 1994, the longest he’s gone without releasing an album has been a scant two years. In some years, he puts out two to three LPs while juggling multiple side-projects and dropping the occasional boxset of unreleased material just to keep things interesting. If train-travel permanently ceased, you could set your watch to Robert Pollard releasing a new record.
That said he’s been particularly reinvigorated since reuniting the “classic” mid-90s incarnation of GBV, dropping three full-lengths of solid earworms last year, and two sturdy offerings of hook-laden rock in 2013. If anything, the classic GBV lineup reconvening dispels the notion that it doesn’t really matter who’s backing Bob up. In the mid-90s GBV, Pollard had his foil in the inscrutable Tobin Sprout. If you subscribe to the notion that Guided by Voices are the Beatles with substandard recording equipment, then Spout is roughly the Lennon to Pollard’s McCartney. Tempering Pollard’s blasts of arena-ready rock on Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, or Under the Bushes Under the Stars were Sprout’s ragged acoustic melodies in the way of “Awful Bliss” and the acid-tinged hypnosis of “To Remake the Young Flyer”. The miniscule “Littlest League Possible” from the forthcoming Motivational Jumpsuit continues the tradition. The cavernous drum strikes burst forth from a garage circa 1966, while the massive power chords recall any number of early-70s Cheap Trick records. Soon the guitar snarls, interrupting the indelible hook without fully disturbing it. The bass chugs in place as Pollard defiantly intonates “you’ve run out of gas, but that’s not possible.” With Sprout back in the saddle, there’s seemingly nothing that can slow Guided by Voices down.