Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reviewed :: Lifeguards - Waving at the Astronauts

Q: Can someone with a nom de plume of Echos Myron contribute a negative review of a Robert Pollard project for a blog called The Ash Gray Proclamation?

Dropping today (February 15th),via Serious Business Records/Ernest Jennings Recording Co. Lifeguards Waving at the Astronauts is the second Robert Pollard album of 2011, and again pairs Pollard with ex-Cobra Verde, ex-Guided by Voices 2.0 guitarist Doug Gillard. While we assume Pollard is good for 3 or 4 more releases this year, (Mars Classroom, his highly anticipated collaboration with ex-Volcano Suns and Big Dipper ax man Gary Waleik is due in March) Pollard is off to a great start in twenty-eleven with January’s excellent solo release Space City Kicks, and this thoroughly rewarding merger of Prog and Pop by Lifegards. Pollard and Gillard have paired up before, on 1999’s magnificent Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department and again on 2003’s solid Mist King Urth. While Speak Kindly, arguably one of the best Robert Pollard records of the post classic lineup GBV cannon, sounded more like a Pollard solo record, Astronauts sounds like more of a collaboration record in the vain of his work released under Airport 5 with long time foil Tobin Sprout and Go Back Snowball, his collab with Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan. Like those records, Astronauts is the product of Pollard (deftly in this case) applying lyrics and melodies to music already recorded, at least in demo-form, by Gillard. What separates this record from its piece-meal predecessors is that on Astronauts, the listener can hear Pollard apply his tremendous gift for melody and uncanny ability to write hooks –to fairly straightforward guitar riffs.

While nowhere on Astronauts does Gillard deliver Pollard a pure meatball like Pop Zeus, although the stellar lead track Paradise Is Not So Bad comes pretty close. Uncle Bob hits Gillard’s compositions to all fields with power, knocking (Doing The)Math,You’re Gonna Need A Mountain, andThey Called Him So Much right out of the ballpark. While many of these tracks are more rhythmic than melodic, and fairly standard-rock instrumental tracks, the fact that Pollard transforms the other 6 compositions into memorable, hum-able pop songs, is a testament to his unparalleled pop chops, and what makes Waving at the Astronauts such a enjoyable listen.

~Echos Myron

LIFEGUARDS - Paradise Is Not So Bad by seriousbusiness

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