REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Guided By Voices' latest is unlikely to sway the naysayers but contains joy aplenty

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Guided By Voices tinker little with the formula they have perfected over the course of twenty-one albums with ‘Motivational Jumpsuit’ but that they are still delivering the goods in their fourth decade of being is plenty cause for celebration

GBV-Motivational-Jumpsuit-608x607Guided By Voices - Motivational Jumpsuit (OUT 17TH FEB)

I have a friend who hates
Guided By Voices. He is in all other aspects of reasonably sound mind, at times fiendishly clever and indeed relatively learned when it comes to the art of early 90s alt-rock. He can wax lyrical about the infinite genius of
Stephen Malkmus or rhapsodise about the fearsome guitar chops of
J Mascis but when it comes to
Robert Pollard and co. there's some kind of synaptic discord and he's utterly oblivious to their charms. Many and varied have been my attempts to make him see the errors of his ways over the years such a good friend am I, but to no avail. From the lo-fi ramshackle beauty of
'Under The Bushes Under The Stars' to the flawless power pop master class of
'Do The Collapse' he is resolutely unmoved. A moment's acknowledgement that
'She Lives In An Airport' from 2012’s ‘
The Bears For Lunch’ was a TUNE remains the only sliver of hope that he may not be a complete oaf after all. What then will he make of this, the recently reformed and resurgent band's fifth in the space of three years and twenty-first overall?. Will this at last be his epiphany? I suspect not and to be honest, more fool him as for those already converted, whilst there are little surprises herein, there’s joy aplenty too. Underwater lo-fi fragments of songs (
'Evangeline Dandelion') are randomly interspersed with taut, hi-fi glam stompers (
‘I Am Columbus’) as the band casually rattle through twenty songs in little over thirty seven minutes.
Pollard's on fine form balancing lo-fi acoustic ballads custom-built for lighter- waving (
‘Until The Next Time’) with breakneck-paced power pop (
‘Vote For Me Dummy”) and inevitably throws in a couple of stone-cold classics that can be happily filed in amongst
GBV's finest (the distorted minor-key descent of
'Save The Company' and the fuzzy throwaway
'Planet Score'). Cohort
Tobin Sprout is perhaps more the surprise here; his contributions being the strongest since the reunion; the sweet singalong of
'Some Things Are Big And Some Things Are Small' and the poignant 
‘Shine’ in particular jostling with
Pollard's for the album's top billing. So all in all, so far so
Guided By Voices. Sloppy and unfocused with just enough flashes of melodic genius and slacker panache to pull it all off. Ultimately given that the twenty albums that precede have failed to move him in any way,
'Motivational Jumpsuit' is certainly unlikely to sway said friend but that my friends is his loss, not ours.