steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Robert Pollard

"Is Off to Business" album

Guided By Voices Inc.

Genre: indie rock

June 20 2008

Robert Pollard Is Off to Business is the songsmith's first full-length offering for his new Guided By Voices Inc. label. And in the spirit of change, seven of this disc's ten tracks make it past the three-and-a-half minute mark, making it a considerable departure from Pollard's more fragmented material. Indeed, Off to Business is a studio-polished collection of pop and rock songs that harkens back to the old (but not old old) GBV days of Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. And as it stands, songwriting-wise, it is one of Pollard's most successful albums in recent memory - considerably better than the inconsistent Normal Happiness, the last album of his I covered.

To put it clearly, Off to Business is a solid collection of powered rock gems and slower pop opuses. As is and always will be true with Pollard's output, some songs are decisively better than others. For example, "Western Centipede" has great energy but is lacking on the melodic front, and peppy opener "The Original Heart" lacks lasting hooks. Meanwhile, Pollard scores winners with prog-rock wonder "No One But I" and psychedelia-drenched anthem "Wealth and Hell-Being," the best song on this record.

It is uncanny how skilled Pollard is at crafting brilliant melodies that are both instantly infectious and remarkably lasting. It makes sense, then, that the quality of any Pollard album is largely proportional to its songs' ability to "hook" you. That's what separates a Bee Thousand from a Do the Collapse. And with an impressive hit-to-miss ratio, Off to Business ranks among Pollard's best solo efforts. Though it doesn't break any barriers creativity-wise, it's still got that fascinatingly entertaining sound that endeared the indie masses to GBV in the nineties. It's nice to have you back, Mr. Pollard.

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Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 10 tracks, distributed by the artist, released June 2, 2008]