Robert Pollard, ‘From A Compound Eye’ (Merge)
Okay, uncle. I give. After Robert Pollard broke up Guided by Voices, of which he was the only real member, I thought I’d finally have time to work through some of the 1,000-plus songs the band had released during its 21-year run. But noooo — Pollard’s first post-GBV solo release is a double album, with imaginary sides on the CD breaking up 26 songs, all of which will likely have been superseded by the time you read this. So exactly how is this prolific disc different from a Guided by Voices album? Well, it’s credited to Pollard, obviously, and…that’s about it. His voice and music still retain their quasi-British accents, even though Brian Eno’s early solo albums hold greater sway these days than Pollard’s beloved Who. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean he’s employed Boards of Canada as his backing band, just that the songs on From A Compound Eye are twisted, quirky pop gems; Pollard works in miniature, crafting middle-aged symphonies to God with lyrics that get more elliptical the nearer he gets to 50.
So maybe it’s better to focus on the fuzziness of the guitars rather than the words. As good a time as Pollard the rock musician has (and the photos on the back sleeve imply he’s still having a blast), Pollard the rock consumer is never far from the surface. You can practically hear him downing cold domestics with friends who still have jobs (and thus cannot keep up with his discography) as everyone marvels over awesome song titles like “I Surround You Naked” and “Fresh Threats Salad Shooters and Zip Guns.” What happens as you listen to rock, the lyrics suggest, is more important than the rock itself. Because there will always be more songs. Ironically, those tunes, like “Conqueror of the Moon,” are frequently so epic the rock nerd in you just assumes there has got to be more there. As Pollard sings in “Kingdom Without,” “Every old man needs a flashlight,” and I guess I keep hoping that at some point before we both die, he’s going to help guide me through the maze he’s created.
SEE ALSO: Lexo and the Leapers, Ask Them (Fading Captain, 1999)