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Review: Robert Pollard | Elephant Jokes

Guided By Voices Inc. (2009)
By MICHAEL PATRICK BRADY  |  August 10, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

Pollard doesn't care whether you listen to his music. The entire world could be rendered deaf and he'd still put out a half-dozen albums a year, driven by a need to express the twisted melodies and schizophasic lyrics that clutter his brain. Elephant Jokes is his fifth album just this year, and he has another one on deck in his Boston Spaceships guise.

What's truly astonishing, however, is that despite the breakneck pace, the immense number of volumes, and, yes, the moderate amount of half-baked filler, Pollard still turns out some gems. He has an eerie gift for memorable melodies, and it's put to good use on this light-hearted album, which burns through 22 songs in 45 minutes. The perky guitar of "Johnny Optimist" is pure fun, a typically abstract Pollard yarn about a distorted protagonist who nevertheless "comes out on top/Like a post-car-crash Jan and Dean."

He wastes a perfectly good chorus on "Hipsville (Where the Frisbees Fly Forever)," an interlude that would seem insubstantial on one of his many demo collections. Although much of Elephant Jokes is in the indie-arena-rock mold, the ballad "Desiring" and "Tattered Lilly," with its delicate double-tracked harmonies, both provide depth and contrast. No surprises here, just a reliable, workmanlike attitude with a few warm smiles.

Related: A real cut-up, Saving The Past For Last, Robert Pollard(1), More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Robert Pollard, Robert Pollard, Robert Pollard,  More more >
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