Robert Pollard may be the hardest-working man in indie rock. In addition to the twenty-plus groundbreaking recordings he made with his now-defunct band Guided by Voices - not to mention numerous side projects - the former schoolteacher has seen the release of no less than fifteen solo albums in the space of twelve years. In fact, Robert Pollard Is Off to Business, released by his new Guided By Voices Inc. imprint, is the second album issued under his name this year. And it is a doozy. The prolific and verbose Pollard's well-known obsessions with British Invasion pop, jangly indie, and noisy punk are well in evidence on this relatively short collection of ten songs in 35 minutes. But straightforward pop-rock rules the day here, leavened with a touch of pub-rock abandon. The singer exercises his ability to essay the melancholy side of Roger Daltrey, especially on the first two tracks, "The Original Heart" and "The Blondes." He sounds a bit more like Paul Weller on "Weathermen and Skin Goddess," which is a charming mid-tempo folk-rocker. "No One But I" and "Confessions of a Teenage Jerk-Off" are acoustic-based collisions of English folk and the art-rock bluster of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. Dark, but satisfying.
The album's masterstroke is "Gratification to Concrete," which captures the timeless quality of rock radio with its bouncy rhythms and wah-wah guitar. It's classic Pollard — a little orchestral pop, obtuse lyrics, a sense of energy, and undeniable melody. This album is an unadulterated joy. (Guided by Voices)
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