by Chris Bay
Guided by Voices called it quits in late 2004 after releasing its final album, Half Smiles of the Decomposed. After reconvening the band's '92-'96 lineup last year for a string of shows, GBV decided to hang things up in the opposite order this time. The band played its (second) final show in Raleigh, NC back in September and shortly after announced that it would release its (second) final album at the turn of the year: January 1, 2012. We're not sure whether or not to believe it this time. Not that we're complaining.
Certainly Bob Pollard will continue to produce music (he's already released three records this year, two solo LPs and a Boston Spaceships double LP) and the band's mid-'90s output alone is enough to keep us happy for years to come. Uncle Bob and the boys unexpectedly dropped a new single yesterday morning from the forthcoming album, to be titled Let's Go Eat the Factory. The whole thing is not unlike the way that my favorite imaginary uncle stops by randomly with a six pack just hang out and shoot the breeze.
A first listen to "The Unsinkable Fats Domino" reveals the band up to its old tricks, which have never really grown old. Tobin Sprout and Mitch Mitchell's thickly fuzzed guitars hammer out eighth notes atop Kevin Fennell's snare, a metronome cracking down on all four beats. In his inimitable style, Pollard's lyrics alternate between nonsensical ("Animal sounds and trumpets, wimpy clouds will know / Silence will sink the carpet, saints will drink and move too slow") and self-affirming thoughts that seem to flow from the steadily rolling film reel in his head ("So be like them, unsinkable / Make disbelief unthinkable"). The song has all the hallmarks you would expect: It's short, catchy and immensely listenable.
Of all of the indie/underground bands from the '90s to rekindle the flame over the past few years (Pavement, Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, et al) GBV is the one that seems to have changed the least. And that's a good thing. Pollard and company's irreverence and spark are just as vibrant as ever. Maybe it's nostalgia, but we'd be perfectly happy to have the band frozen in 1997: