Robert Pollard’s prolific but private basement four-track recording habit, Guided by Voices, finally found fame on the surface world in the early nineties, by which time the Dayton Ohio schoolteacher was already in his mid-thirties, with thousands of completed songs stored in a suitcase.
Pollard may be experimenting with the formal limits of the rock song, endlessly recombining distressed fragments of the classic rock, British invasion and early prog sounds he assimilated as a little kid in the ‘60s, but rooms full of drunken fans in their thousands are chanting “G B V!”, making his conceptual exercise pungently real.
Guided By Voices is now an unlikely candidate for the most perfect rock band of all time, whilst at the same time being a thoughtful reflection on what a rock bands is, a fantasy that becomes a fact.
Sweating The Plague, Guided by Voices 29th album and their third this year, spars playfully with stadium-sized fidelity and uncharacteristically impactful arrangements. Sweating The Plague is an uncharacteristically concise rock’n’roll record, with lush gems tucked in amongst the hooks and hits, and with a sprinkling of prog-rock moves. And, as usual with Pollard, the album is sequenced as a whole, a coherent collection, rather than a selection of downloadable content baubles.
Producer Travis Harrison’s counterintuitive approach to Guided By Voices’ historically lo-fi sound was that he didn’t want it to sound homemade. Sweating The Plague is constructed as a classic 12 song album experience, made to be played loud.
Being a fan of Pollard, and Guided by Voices, can feel like standing in a ticker-tape parade and reaching out to grab at stray releases as they endless flurry of output from the Needmore Songs publishing house billows around you. But here’s twelve compatible nuggets of Pollard content in one handy package, all boxed up and ready to go.
Sweating The Plague is in stores Oct 25
Guided By Voices Tour Dates:
Sat 8/10 – Bellwether Festival – Waynesville, OH
Fri 9/13- Sun 9/15 – Riot Fest – Chicago, IL
Fri 9/27 – Industry City – Brooklyn, NY
Sat 9/28 – Port City Music Hall – Portland, ME
Fri 11/29 – Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
Sat 11/30 – Saint Andrews Hall – Detroit, MI
Fri 12/6 – Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
Sat 12/7 – Black Cat – Washington, DC
Tue 12/31 – Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, CA (SOLD OUT) – special show: 100 songs (one time only!)