Guided By Voices – 'Motivational Jumpsuit' album review

After four new albums in three years, the indie veterans stumble

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5


Even though they came to prominence in the ’90s DIY scene, when unbridled access to four-track Portastudios unleashed a wave of lo-fi releases, Guided By Voices were always uniquely prolific. Since reuniting in 2010 after a six-year hiatus, the high-kicking, hard-drinking Ohio veterans have only stepped things up, squashing any talk of a play-the-hits victory lap by firing out five new LPs in three years.

That’s a lot of work for a troupe of severely liver-damaged men in their fifties. And, unfortunately, with ‘Motivational Jumpsuit’, the cracks are beginning to show. British invasion, noise, prog, power-pop and a healthy disdain for traditional song structure: all the elements for another joyously madcap GBV outing are here, but it all comes off rather uninspired.

Over their 20-plus albums there’s been the odd misfire, but this time around it really feels like they’re just going through the motions. The rawk-driven tracks feel plodding and repetitive, while the poppier moments (courtesy of guitarist Tobin Sprout) are sugary and lightweight.
 
There are a few hidden gems. ‘Record Level Love’ is a gorgeous, sunny-eyed slice of jangle rock, while ‘Vote for Me Dummy’ sets frontman Robert Pollard’s caustic take on politics to a soaring melody. But, scant highlights aside, ‘Motivational Jumpsuit’ is the sound of a band in need of a good sit down.


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