A-ha, another dirty guitaroffering from a bunch of twentysomethings that wecan listen to when we have finished with The Hives, The Vines, The White Stripes and The Libertines? No, Guided By Voices have been around since 1986 and have at least eight studio albums to their credit, although they did tour with The Strokes last year.
Nevertheless, Earthquake Glue didn’t blow my mind. I don’tfeel like I have been missing out all these years,although it does have some redeeming features. Many ofthe songs are ideal amateur BMX video soundtracks,which is a backhanded compliment. There is some nicejingly jangly guitar and Robert Pollard’s voice, whichat times resembles that of many early 1990s English acts, isconstant and perfectly matches the lo-fi quality ofthe recording.
The album clocks in at 45 minutes and holds 15 tracks. For theless mathematically minded (bare with me here), thisequates to roughly three minutes a song. Throw in a couple atover four and a half minutes, and the average drops to nearer twominutes. This leaves no time for guitar solos. Thetraditional verse, chorus, verse, chorus set-up isdropped, which does make for some interestinglistening. It will be listening, mind, because you wont besinging along to many of these songs, or find yourselfwhistling them as you walk down the street.
The opening track, My Kind OfSoldier, opens with a punchy start and is one of thelikely singles. My Son, My Secretary and My Countryopens with a brass band before dropping into aPink Floyd acoustic guitar and some niceimagery on the lyrics front.
As you can see, one of the things Guided By Voices do havegoing for them is some great song titles. Others include I’ll ReplaceYou With Machines, Useless Inventions, A Trophy MuleIn Particular and Of Mites And Men.
In retrospect this is a strangeone. Existing fans of the band will no doubt lap itup, as will many fans of the lo-fi genre, but I can’t helpfeeling that Guided By Voices are going to remain asatellite band on the verge of mainstream Britishsuccess. This is not necessarily a bad thing because they are playing whatthey want to play. More joy to them.