Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Robert Pollard: "Blazing Gentlemen" (album review)

The December 10th release of Blazing Gentlemen is being billed as Robert Pollard's final release of 2013.  Personally, I'm not buying it.  The Guided By Voices frontman just can't help himself.

What Blazing Gentlemen is in fact, is exactly what you'd expect from the prolific Pollard.  There's some gold nuggets hidden among the 16 tracks and 32 minutes, but it's hard slogging to find it.

Tracks like "Return of the Drums", "Picadilly Man", "Professional Goose Trainer" and "Extra Fool's Day" flow from one to the next, without any of them standing out.  There's little, either good or bad, that distinguishes any of these tracks.

Pollard returns to his go-to of repeating the title of the song over and over again in place of an actual refrain on the title track.  "Storm Center Level Seven" is one of those half-thought out song fragments for which Pollard is notorious.

A heavier guitar sound is present on many of the album's tracks.  The opener, "Magic Man Hype", absolutely shreds.  "1000 Royalty Street" is a welcome burst of energetic rock.  The bouncy "Tea People" provides the record's most catchy moment.  That doesn't work out on "Red Flag Down", a grungy boggy tune.

With the volume of GBV and solo releases Pollard spews out in a year, it's shouldn't be surprising that some of the material is substandard.  It seems as though he's saved up most of those lower end cuts for Blazing Gentlemen, making it feel like a 'clear the decks' type of release.

Best tracks: "1000 Royalty Street", "Tea People"

Track listing for Blazing Gentlemen:

  • Magic Man Hype
  • Blazing Gentlemen
  • Red Flag Down
  • Storm Center Level Seven
  • Return of the Drums
  • Picadilly Man
  • Professional Goose Trainer
  • Extra Fool's Day
  • 1000 Royalty Street
  • My Museum Needs An Elevator
  • Tonight's the Rodeo
  • Tea People
  • Faking the Boy Scouts
  • Triple Sec Venus
  • This Place Has Everything
  • Lips of Joy

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