Earth Man Blues by Guided By Voices [8/10]

No one can keep up with Robert Pollard’s unique outflow of unique garage-rock-style music, in a bewildering array of identities, and in practice, I suspect, few do. It’s not that his profligacy is full of filler—his amalgam of singalong melodies, rough prog-infused guitar music, and freeform lyrics never bores—but true brilliance is steady yet only partial. I seem to listen to only a tenth of the blur of releases. Luckily, he always comes back to his first group, Guided By Voices, and often those releases return to the mother lode. His 33rd GBV album, “Earth Man Blues,” seems to have found lockdown life. Nominally mostly rejects from previous GBV releases, they cohere wonderfully into something that resembles a harsher concept album from the early Genesis days, the fifteen inventive tracks often buttressed with woozy synths. Intoxicating stuff, Earth Man Blues is Guided By Voices at its magical best. Highlights include the two minutes of raging, melodic garage pop of “Trust Them Now”; “Lights Out in Memphis (Egypt),” a five-minute wig-out flitting between ponderous guitar riffs and 60s-style voiceovers; and the short, off-kilter swooning pop of “Sunshine Girl Hello.”

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