5/02/2013

Silver Star for Robot Boys

GUIDED BY VOICES
English Little League
[GBV Records - 2013]

Has there ever been a more prolific songwriter in the history of popular music than Robert Pollard? Forget about the GBV catalog, the solo output under his name and the numerous collaborations and other projects—if the three full length albums released in 2012 by the recently reunited ‘93-‘96 lineup of GBV are any indication, Uncle Bob ain’t letting moss gather on his badass senior citizen self. (As Matt Wild of the A.V. Club remarked in his review of the album, “Pollard recently installed a recording studio in his house [which would] suggest that it will now be even easier for Uncle Bob to wake up, shuffle out of bed, and record four new albums before lunch.” Ha!)

Nothing wrong with Pollard keeping up his decidedly superhuman pace since much this recent output is pretty cool; nothing stellar but certainly not disappointing. And definitely bearing some outstanding moments. English Little League is certainly not the exception. Unfortunately, Pollard’s old collaborator Tobin Sprout is back on board and his contributions not only seem out of place but occasionally bring the flow of the album to a halt.

For those who may have come late to the GBV party—circa 1997’s Mag Earwhig! [Matador]—or simply did not care much for Sprout, it might be jarring to hear him on a new GBV album at his point. Oh, well. With this newest chapter of the GBV saga we get an album that's a bit too long, with its share of duds, occasional filler and recordings of varying degrees of fidelity sharing space together. But few songwriters in indie rock, past or present, have the for knack for busting out choice tunes like Pollard so effortlessly seems to do time and again. So, it’s business as usual, then? We’ll take it.

Highlights: “Xeno Pariah”, “Trash Can Full of Nails”, “Send to Celeste (and the Cosmic Athletes)”, “Biographer Seahorse”, “Flunky Minnows”.

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