I’d totally gone to the Guided by Voices Spotify page to listen to Alien Lanes and noticed they had another new album out. So they put out a new album approximately one time per instance in which I want to listen to them, which oddly kind of makes sense, in a way.
Anyway, this La La Land shin-dig came out three months ago, truth be told. Well, I’m kind of keeping up with them. That’s all that matters. And keeping me on my toes, they are: I’d expected “Another Day to Heal” to be like some mystical Pink Floyd type stuff, or that weird Stevie Wonder phase when he was out in nature. Much to my surprise, they crank up the Fender stacks and rock out a little bit, with even a little punk swagger, and, all in all, “Another Day to Heal” is a pithy, structurally intricate success.
“Released to Dimentia,” with its hilariously self-deprecating title and typical lo-fi sense of fu**-all, goes by like a dream, like a GBV song must do, to give way to “Ballroom Etiquette,” which furnishes some of the clearest, finest GBV guitar sound we’ve heard to date. The song’s mournful quality, with the chorus’ repeated mantra of “Most likely if you go / You will only make a show of yourself”, acts as a nice foil to the breezier fare that’s crowded the album up this point.
“Instinct Dwelling” veers probably closer to grunge territory than anything this band has done since Alien Lanes (1995), with some muted guitar distorting out like they’re doing their best Jane’s Addiction impression. “Queen of Spaces” makes for an interesting case: I’d thought it were an instrumental until strings and vocals come in at the 1:20 mark, for things to tromp along majestically and with beautiful melancholy, spicing in just enough melodic dissonance to keep things interesting and GBV-sounding. At this point, this is shaping up to be the most consistent album by these guys since Earthquake Glue (2003).
“Slowly by the Wheel” probably qualifies as “epic” by this band’s standards: six minutes of starts and stops, ambient piano ranging up to stock, Let’s Go Eat the Factory-era groove, and back, all the while toting a sort of sense of frustration and alienation that seems long overdue from Pollard and company, on wax. Usually I have more smart-a** stuff to say about this band but at this point they’re just amazing me with their consistency and astonishing me with their continual knack for exploration, like the eerie introduction that opens up “Wild Kingdom,” and a reference to “an invitation to suffering”. On La La Land, it seems that these guys are finally incorporating a giddy element of childishness with a real-life element of suffering and personal growth to warrant something approximating a classic album.
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