The question “How much is too much?” is one lots of people might ask themselves when approaching the catalog of Robert Pollard and his band of lo-fi royalty, Guided By Voices. Since reuniting the so-called classic lineup for Matador’s 21st birthday in 2010, the band has toured the world, bringing back to the stage their short bursts of rock laid down on four-track recorders in Ohio basements over cases of Miller Lite and cartons of an undetermined cigarette brand. Since disbanding the mighty GBV in 2004, Pollard has released 16 solo albums and 7” singles apiece, alongside five EPs, five albums from his already disbanded yet rather excellent Boston Spaceships project, and so many other quote-unquote “side projects” that it got a little tiring to keep track of a man whose former full time gig only dropped roughly a full length a year and maybe a single or three.
Today, his work ethic of the last decade rubbed seems off on his former band mates, who hadn’t cut an album together since 1996’s thunderous Under The Bushes Under The Stars. Guided By Voices have already released two albums this year - January’s comeback hodgepodge Let’s All Go Eat The Factory and June’s future classic Class Clown Spots A UFO - and now the beer guzzling and chain smoking over short bursts of pop songs continues on their third and final album of 2012, The Bears For Lunch.
What would surprise the casual GBV listener, not the diehard fan who pre-ordered all of their 2012 releases and even tracked down a copy of 2005’s Acid Ranch’s As Forever, is that they still continue to make great, catchy rock anthems. And although the songs released as advanced singles unfortunately are the strongest songs, the ones that you can comfortably put together on a playlist for a new fan alongside “Tractor Rape Chain” and “Cut-Out Witch”, it doesn’t mean the other songs aren’t the worst things they’ve done. Sure, there’s the legitimate fodder (the :35 second “Smoggy Boy” sounds like a piece from the scrap heap,) but you do have the surprise of Pollard, alongside axe men MItch Mitchell and Tobin Sprout, churning out catchy tracks that you’ll be singing and fisting pumping to in your car or with your friends at a BBQ.