By Kenny McMurtrie
December 13, 2013
The last time I reviewed anything featuring Robert Pollard (here) there was mild case of familiarity breeding contempt.
With Blazing Gentlemen (his 20th solo album and second this year, a ratio maintained for the last seven years) my pre-listen assumption was that I’d end up writing basically the same thing again, much as it could maybe be levelled that that’s what he keeps recording.
Things start off in a pretty no nonsense & robust fashion with ‘Magic Man Hype’, a muscular number that at times sees Pollard’s vocals almost drowned behind the thrashing guitar.
This hard & fast style is repeated at various times through the 16 tracks, most notably on ‘Triple Sec Venus’ and ‘Red Flag Down’ with the remainder of the songs taking a poppier, lighter route. Overall this makes for a well balanced collection that, when it fully hits the target, has you craving more.
‘Tonight’s The Rodeo’ is a particularly nice ditty later on in the album but at just under two minutes in length it’s also one of the songs of which you get the impression that the idea behind them fizzled out early in their creation. It’s one of Pollard’s odder qualities that his seeming stream of conciousness writing can extend his more pedestrian ideas and yet leave charming tunes like this as mere nuggets, albeit almost perfectly formed ones.
Which, of course, is largely what you could say about Honey Locust Honky Tonk from a few months ago and returns me to the point about things changing but always staying the same with both Pollard and Guided By Voices. By now though no one’s going to be surprised by this and it does make for a body of work that’s easily accessible at any stage of the output for the so far uninitiated.