Music review: Guided By Voices' 'Class Clown Spots a UFO' (GBV Inc.)

Music review: Guided By Voices' ‘Class Clown Spots a UFO' (GBV Inc.)
Published: August 17, 2012
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ALTERNATIVE

Guided By Voices “Class Clown Spots a UFO” (GBV Inc.)

Prolific Robert Pollard and proliferant Tobin Sprout are more productive than ever since getting the 1993-'96 lineup of Guided By Voices back together, releasing “Let's Go Eat the Factory” — their first album in eight years — in January, then brightening the summer with “Class Clown Spots a UFO,” with a third LP, “Bears for Lunch,” due in November.

So here's another 21-song album of lo-fi, British-influenced music, all written by Pollard except for the six written by Sprout, considered by some to be the George Harrison to Pollard's demented Lennon-McCartney style. Sprout earns that comparison with such stately tunes as the chamber-pop snippet “They and Them” (clocking in at 1:09) and the hypnotic, synthesizer-sheened “Forever Until It Breaks.”

Pollard's title song is full of upbeat melody and baffling lyrics, with a dance-inducing rhythm, an a capella middle and counterpoint vocals that conjure memories of the '60s British Invasion pouring from an AM radio.

One wishes such intriguing song fragments as the acoustic, harmony-shaded “Chain the Moon” and the arresting “Worm w/7 Broken Hearts” were more fully formed, but Pollard more than makes up for the odds and ends with guitar-driven melodies like “He Rises! Our Union Bellboy,” “Hang Up and Try Again” and “Keep It in Motion” that are irresistibly hummable and youthfully earnest, and not the kind of pop perfection you'd expect from a beer-guzzling former fourth-grade teacher from Dayton, Ohio.

With more than 1,500 songs registered to his name with BMI (according to Wikipedia), Pollard's still going strong, singing like a Beatle and stinging like a bee with some of the finest jangly garage-band tunefulness anybody's heard since Big Star broke up 35 long years ago.

— Gene Triplett

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