Late last year when it was announced that Robert Pollard had a recorded an album's worth of material with Gary Waliek of our beloved Big Dipper we nearly fell out of our chairs. But after we gave it some more thought we realized that this dream team collaboration, made perfect sense. After all we witnessed Pollard's Big Dipper fandom first hand when he tapped them to open a show at The Paradise for his Boston Spaceships in 2008. Not to mention that he was perched at the side of the stage for Big Dipper entire set that evening, showing his obvious appreciation. Was it that fall evening in Boston that the seeds of Mars Classroom were planted? Who knows. More importantly what would the pairing of the magnanimous Robert Pollard and Gary Waliek, founding member of both Volcano Suns and Big Dipper sound like?
Rest assured, Mars Classroom works on every level. With assistance from Pell Mell's Robert Beerman , Pollard and Waliek have issued an instantly satisfying collection of mostly chiming guitar power-pop with a few curve balls to keep us on our toes. The album works so well because of the pristine and varied guitar driven underbelly that Waliek provides throughout, which allows Pollard to insert some of his most direct and stirring melodies. The New Theory of Everything is book ended by two of Pollards most instantly satisfying tracks. The title track had us reaching for the repeat button from fist listen and the albums final track, Wish You Were Young is a gorgeous, albeit melancholy gem, that reminds us a bit of the quieter moments from GBV's 2001 TVT released, Isolation Drills. But our odds on favorite track is the jagged Pre Meds A Trip which finds the trio upping the noise and prog factor all the while pummeling you with blistering pop hooks. But then again this record has a habit of revealing a new favorite with each listen.
Depending on who you ask you might get a slightly different answer, but to say that Robert Pollard has been on hot streak over the last few years is a gross understatement and Mars Classroom manages not only to continue the streak it manages to raise the bar a bit. Tell you're old college buddies, you know the ones you talked into that GBV reunion show, to pay attention, Mars Classroom is the Pollard pop record they've been waiting for, and frankly so have we. Let's hope this is not the last we hear from Mr's Pollard, Waliek, and Beerman as Mars Classroom because it's too good to be a passing fling.
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