Another Friday rolled around pretty quickly and as the dust is settling everything changes like the weather. As we move around from season to season, there’s always one thing that remains constant, and that’s knowing Robert Pollard is up to something that leaves its mark somewhere, somehow. I always find how prolific he is confusing, not because he’s always releasing material either under his own name or a different project, but how the magic never seems to dissipate. Of the heels of the August By Cake, which was just released in April, it’s no surprise to find another new release here, again under the Guided By Voices moniker. Well, it is the name that started his claim to notoriety. Today marks the day we find How Do You Spell Heaven available to everyone and it seems I have to preface this with: This one right here, it’s glorious. Even in its imperfections. I’ll explain in a moment but first…. Here’s a quick look at How Do You Spell Heaven.
Well? Pretty nifty eh?
I know it isn’t much to go on but trust me when I tell you that it’s only a taste of how great this album is. From beginning to end this album is a rip-roaring good time. And as with all Guided By Voices releases, it’s a lengthy album packed in with 15 songs. Given, there aren’t many songs that travel passed the 3 minute mark but what does that matter when you have incredible songs like “The Birthday Democrats,” filled with catchy hooks before the melancholic feel sets in. It doesn’t end there, it never usually does. If you’re like me you’ll occasionally bounce around from track-to-track in search of glory that’s better than the last track you listened to. “Diver Dan” is all about that. The melodies will get stuck in your head unrelentingly. Once you think it’s vanished you’ll find it stuck to the bottom of your shoe like some gooey Hubba Bubba. This one’s directly followed by “How To Murder A Man,” which moves at a slower pace but as soon as those harmonies come in it’s as if they crash under the weight of those guitars and drums. The track goes through a number of shifts and changes at a drop of a hat. It’s one of those that’s going to challenge listeners but no one’s going to mind. Especially when it leads up to “Pearly Gates Smoke Machine.” This one right here, it’s pop majesty in all its glory. An instrumental track that’s perfect without vocals but it would be unmatched if it did carry them. I keep rummaging back to the title track here which clocks in at under the two-minute mark but is a beautifully crafted pop number with its wall of guitars, Pollard’s great lyricism and wondrous solos. Occasionally you might wonder if there’s nothing the band can’t do, and “Low Flying Perfection” is ballad-esque but they rip through it with arena rock sized instruments.
But remember those imperfections I mentioned earlier? Yeah, one problem I have sometimes is how a song here or there might end without a clear outro like on the opening track. But my editor would probably say I was being a whiny little kid about it when you’ve just been hit with a bus-sized guitar pop beauty. Yeah maybe but that’s the only problem I’ve had with GBV throughout the years. Other than that, Pollard writes those clever pop songs and always enlists a who’s who of talented musicians to help with the constructs. How Do You Spell Heaven…not sure if it’s an actual question but you probably spell it like this album sounds.