Jeff Moody
STRIPWAX

A little less clowning from Guided By Voices

The "classic lineup's" second album this year, "Class Clown Spots a UFO," offers a more even tracklist than GBV's last effort.

By - May 26th, 2012 04:00 am
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This past January, I jabbered in this Stripwax blog/journal/screed at length about Guided By Voices’s Let’s Go Eat The Factory, the first elpee by the “classic lineup” since the mid-nineties. In plain spoken terms, I summed it up as “a little less than half bullshit” and I stand by that a little less than six months later.

Class Clown Spots A UFO is GBV’s SECOND (?!) TWENNYONE TRACK (??!!) elpee of 2012, and they are planning to release a THIRD (???!!!) record before the year is out. I’m not one to float conspiracy theories, but I kinda wonder if’n these guys have been squirreling away tracks like nuts during their hibernation period. Whatever. If you like them (I do) you know how good it feels to have them back in our ears, as uneven as their output can be. The good thing about “Clown” is that it’s considerably more even than “Factory.”

There are a few really excellent tracks, the best of which is “Hang Up And Try Again”, a song that throws heavyweight hooks around like it’s no big thing. “Keep It In Motion” follows, and is sweet and pretty and somehow even life-affirming if you pay close enough attention. “Roll Of The Dice, Kick In The Head” is criminally short, a powerhouse aborted at 45 seconds. “Forever Until it Breaks” is peaceful and trance-inducing, reaching full bloom when they hit the chorus, which is or is not the words “Al Green” over and over. I hope it is, because Al Green, as I’ve said many times before, is love.

There are also many good tracks and a few duds, but it really wouldn’t be Guided by Voices if the elpee were free of frustrations, no? Take “Worm with Seven Broken Hearts”, for example. Awesome title, but a musically meandering, shapeless dirge. “Fly Baby” and “Lost in Space” flop around and eventually die like the obvious throwaways they are, but the main difference between “Clown” and “Factory” is that there are songs that appear to be throwaways on first listen, but have melodies so strong, you’ll find yerself humming them later on when you least expect it, not unlike their best work in their “Alien Lanes” and/or “Bee Thousand” period.

If I could take the best from this and the best from “Factory” and call it Let’s Go Eat The Class Clown’s UFO, that record would be in my top five elpeez of 2012 thus far.

0 thoughts on “STRIPWAX: A little less clowning from Guided By Voices”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “[The] main difference between ‘Clown’ and ‘Factory’ is that there are songs that appear to be throwaways on first listen, but have melodies so strong, you’ll find yerself humming them later on when you least expect it, not unlike their best work in their ‘Alien Lanes’ and/or ‘Bee Thousand’ period.”

    spot on man. a few days after listening to the album for the first time, I had “The Opposite Continues” stuck in my head even though I barely noticed it on my first few listens of the album. now it’s one of my favorites. I was really skeptical about this record because Factory is probably my least favorite Pollard album ever (or very close to it), but there are a lot of great tracks here.

    tracks that’ll go into my Pollard playlist (hopefully more to be added):
    – Blue Babbleships Bay
    – Class Clown
    – Chain to the Moon
    – Hang up and Try Again
    – Keep it in Motion
    – Roll of the Dice
    – Billy Wire (LOVE this track)
    – Jon the Croc
    – All of This Will Go (top 10 Toby track ever)
    – The Opposite Continues (lead guitar that sounds like lead guitar!)

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