Seems like all anyone wants to talk about these days is the Guided By Voices reunion tour. It is pretty amazing to see the guys back together, a little older, seemingly no wiser: the way you dreamed it would be, if you dreamed about '90s-era indie rock bands reuniting.
Don't imagine, though, that it's the only magic trick Robert Pollard has in his scientific box. Space City Kicks, an eighteen-song compendium of Bee Thousand-sized sonic chunks that range from noisy pop to poppy noise but mostly just R-O-C-K. Except the ballads, which are melancholy in a way Dwight Twilley never was, making it a mystery why Pollard posed for a recent promo picture with what is clearly Twilley's guitar (and Rod Stewart's Vans, but that makes perfect sense).
The song titles are recombinated DNA from a karaoke list of classics, much in the way the songs themselves call to mind extracts of prog, pop, psych and punk. There's one called "Something Strawberry" which is "Something" meets "Strawberry Fields"; another called "Getting Going" which is taken from "Getting in Tune" and "Going Mobile." The music itself, however, has nothing to do with the titles, which were more like an oblique strategy for spurring Pollard's songwriting--which we're all agreed needs spurring, because the guy just doesn't write and record enough songs.
Recorded as always (or at least, often) with the invaluable assistance of Todd Tobias at his studio in Kent, Ohio, and sequenced so that it seems like Pollard lined up all the songs at once, fired a starting pistol, and sent each of them off at top speed in a different direction, Space City Kicks is Pollard at his loosest and most free, conditions under which he very often produces his finest work.