REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

The resurgence abates a little on latest from Guided By Voices

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Sixth since 2012 and second this year so far sees the second coming of the 'classic line-up' of Guided By Voices faltering slightly

guided-by-voices-cool-planet-608x608Guided By Voices - Cool Planet (OUT 19th MAY)

By now the story should be all too familiar but like all good stories there's no harm and indeed, joy afresh in its retelling.
Guided By Voices, revered stalwarts of the 90s alt-rock scene formed in 1983 and spent the next 21 years in critical ascent churning out mostly A-grade lo-fi power pop at incomparable pace. Fuelled by the inimitable
Robert Pollard, the man behind said relentless prolificity with a famed sideline in on-stage drinking, they released 16 albums and more besides in that initial tenure before winding things up in 2004 with the release of
Half Smiles of the Decomposed which was to Pollard's mind
"as befitting a final album" as any. Not of course for him the quiet life of a retired indie god, propping up a bar and regaling the clientele with misty-eyed reminiscing of glories past, Pollard writes songs with the frequency at which us mere mortals eat meals and continued to while away his time with a whole heap of albums released under his own name and a myriad of excellent side projects (
Boston Spaceships in particular) until the
Guided By Voices itch started anew in 2010 and some hatchets were duly buried for some Matador Records anniversary shows. In doing so, Pollard re-united the oft-proclaimed
'classic line-up' of
Guided By Voices, those of an album purple patch running from 1993 to 1996 that included the perennially wonderful  
Alien Lanes and the formidably scrappy
Under The Bushes Under The Stars and saw Pollard in part sharing song and singing duties with creative foil and frequently all-too conspicuous Beatles-worshipper
Tobin Sprout. And it's a script that has unfolded in fairly delightful fashion of late with the band cramming in five albums since 2012, each building in increments in terms of focus and poise from the last and containing more outright gems than a band hurtling towards their fourth decade around have any right releasing. Lest we forget, that dripping creative tap has also been behind some excellent
Robert Pollard solo releases  (
here and
here) that have been further evidence of a resurgent force comfortably hitting stride.
Cool Planet is regrettably the first suggestion that this second ascendancy might be waning a little. Its tautly focused sonic production is certainly at the easier listening end of the
GBV spectrum with lo-fi bedroom scratch kept to a minimum (though the admittedly lovely
'Costume Makes The Man' is in some part a throwback to the mournful wiggy ness of 1997's
Mag Earwhig!) and plenty of stomping Who-isms (
'Authoritarian Zoo' and
'Pan Swimmer') but ultimately most of the songs lack the killer melodic bite that Pollard has been knocking out with alarming ease of late. Write him off at your peril though. There's bound to be another one just round the corner to redress the balance and reassert those indie god credentials and then some...