Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reviewed :: Guided By Voices - The Bears For Lunch

To get one new album from the reformed classic line up of Guided By Voices would have been enough to satisfy any fan of Guided By Voices but the fact that The Bears For Lunch marks the third LP of new material from Dayton, OH's indie rock legends is enough to have any fan from the casual to the die hard beside themselves. In January Pollard and Co. kicked things off with the excellent, Lets Go Eat The Factory and in June delivered the equally impressive Class Clown Spots A UFO. The Bears For Lunch finds GBV unveiling a set of songs that are bit more fleshed out and a little less ramshackle than its predecessors, it makes for an incredibly consistent and employable listen from beginning to end. Not to worry there's plenty of off the cuff lo-fi charm here but the experiments are perfectly executed with strong pop structures, often within the same song.

Upon many listens I'm left wondering is this what the follow up to Under The Bushes, Under The Stars would have sounded like if Pollard had left this line up in tact instead of hooking up with Cobre Verde for Mag Earwig!? I suppose we'll never know, but the songs that occupy Bears have plenty in common with those found on Under The Bushes, in that both LP's strike a balance between, full throttled pop anthems, rich melodies, and stark melancholy but the album also features some of the spit shined fidelity that Pollard dabbled in with GBV's post classic line -up releases.

The album kicks off with Kind Arthur The Red, a full tilt charging guitar track complete with jackhammer drums courtesy of Kevin Fennell. That song sets the tone for the LP beautifully. With no disrespect intended to the previously mentioned 2012 releases from the band, The Bears For The Lunch feels like the album that GBV were working toward since they regrouped in 2010 and as a result the band display a ton of focus without losing their gift for crafting thrilling pop songs. To say this line-up contains two gifted songwriters is a a ridiculous understatement, although it's never been more obvious that the two bring out the best in each other. Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout deliver their finest contributions of the reunion here with Sprout's Beatlesque gems, Waving At Airplanes and Skin To Skin Combat, while Pollard turns in what might be his strongest song cycle in recent memory, highlighted but not limited to the flawless pop nugget,White Flag and the heartbreaking ballad,You Can Fly Anything Right. The Bears For Lunch finds Guided By Voices firing off 19 tracks in over 43 minutes with not a second is wasted. Every song here reminds of just why we we fell in love with this band in the first place. The album not only picks up where they left off earlier this year with Class Clown Spots A UFO, it picks up where they left off in 1996. The Bears For Lunch is an outright triumph.

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