Guided By Voices are one of those bands that I only know through reputation and a Best-Of, 2003’s “Human Amusements at Hourly Rates”. The problem with such a prolific band is that there’s so much material you just don’t know where to start, even when some of the songs on the best-of have clawed their way into your inner ear and have taken residence with such tenacity that only a post-mortem, or possibly the final decay of the skull, will remove them. I’m looking at you, “My Kind Of Soldier”, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. A borderline neurotic like me looks at the back catalogue and throws his hands up in despair.
Thankfully for their legion of fans and the interested neurotics like me can now relax and listen to their first full-length in, oooh, years. And the pleasure of a GBV album, as I’ve discovered with Let’s Go Eat The Factory, is no matter how much you might dislike any particular track, another will be along within a couple of minutes which might be far more to your liking. Ranging from Sebadoh lo-fi indie to more tuneful REM style jangle, there’s lots to like. You can only imagine how a bunch of forty-somethings have been sitting in their studies and garages in Dayton, Ohio, humming tunes to themselves for months on end until the thought struck them, “Hey, let’s get the old gang back together”, then negotiating with wives and families and the like to get out on the road again. Sure makes your heart melt; there’s a whole swath of ex-rockers who never quite met the grade, but are getting back together and getting more success than ever before. Someone should do a proper documentary of these bands; the Guided By Voices, the Frank And Walters, the bands that were permanently destined to be fifth on the bill on Friday afternoon at Reading1.
Lovely to have them back, making records again. This one has been on iTunes for a bit and is getting a proper physical release next week. We all need some lo-fi tunesmithery overlain by barmy lyrics in our lives, and GBV do it better than almost anyone.
1 Which is why I’d exclude The Pixies from this; they were proper headline act material.