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Published: 2012/08/01
by Ron Hart

Guided by Voices
Class Clown Spots a UFO

GBV, Inc.

Of all the iconic rock bands who’ve jumped on the reunion bandwagon over the last couple of years, it should come as no surprise that Guided by Voices is leading the charge as the most productive of them all.

Just as I took the majority of the summer to absorb the classic lineup’s second full-length of 2012 Class Clown Spots a UFO —released only a scant five months after their outstanding New Year’s Day weekend comeback LP Let’s Go Eat the Factory —for this review you are reading here, Rolling Stone reports the Dayton, Ohio heroes have a third album in the can, The Bears for Lunch, for a November release and are weeks away from entering the studio yet again for another new record, tentatively titled English Little League, for an early 2013 release.

But before we get ahead of ourselves here, take a moment to appreciate what Robert Pollard and his ’93-‘96 GBV mates have accomplished with UFO, an album that skeptics of Factory’s outcome might find a bit more ear pleasing to their discerning opinions. For one, there’s a more even split between Pollard’s Who-gone-garage bombast and guitarist Tobin Sprout’s more nuanced pop leanings, exemplified in the likes of the XTC-esque “They and Them”, the light psychedelia of “Forever Till It Breaks” and the haunting Roger Waters-recalling piano ballad “Lost in Spaces” (far too short at 50 seconds long). And Pollard, meanwhile, hasn’t written sharper hooks since the TVT days, as displayed on prime movers as the 46-second “Roll the Dice, Kick in the Head” and the Only Ones-esque “Billy Wire”, both of which come off like the best material from Vampire on Titus if it was recorded as crisply as Do The Collapse.

If UFO is any indication, GBV fans can continue to expect great things from the next two installments of this most productive reunion campaign by one of the underground’s most celebrated and venerated acts.

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