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Album #43: Guided By Voices – Surrender Your Poppy Field

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Dayton, Ohio, USA
  • Label: GBV
  • Best Track: Always Gone

In my last review, I described The Men as “prolific” for bringing out eight albums in a decade. Making that claim seem pretty laughable, Guided By Voices just brought out their 30th album since 1987 – all the more astonishing considering the dry spell between 2004 and 2012. Last year alone saw Bob Pollard and his lo-fi legends drop three full-length albums.

I’m not going to pretend I’ve heard all 30, or even half of them. I know and love what are arguably their big two of Bee Thousand (1994) and Alien Lanes (1995), have a personal soft spot for Vampire on Titus (1993) and have caught up with some of their more recent releases.

By no means do they all sound the same, but they always sound like Guided By Voices, and that means they’re always a bit of a mixed bag of oddments. There’s no such thing as the cutting room floor with Pollard – everything gets swept up and recycled, even if unrefined or even unfinished. He’s a content mill, and it’s like he wants to broadcast his entire chronicles of music, warts and all.

This album peaks on it’s last two tracks, particularly the penultimate one ‘Always Gone’. In typical GBV style, it’s only a minute and a half long and feels like a lot more could’ve been done with it.

This, as I see it, is all just part of Pollard’s flawed genius. He’s a wonderful songwriter, perhaps with the talent to be a Lennon or Dylan, but he doesn’t want to be. He’d rather leave the loose ends untied, the ‘T’s uncrossed and the ‘I’ undotted.

Guided By Voices will never write the perfect album, and Surrender Your Poppy Field doesn’t change that at the 30th attempt, but new releases from Pollard and co. remain something to look forward to, with their regularity more than welcome.

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