Boston Spaceships - Brown Submarine
Robert Pollard once famously stated that he could write five songs while sitting on the toilet, and three of them would be good. Anyone who is the slightest bit familiar with the ex-Guided By Voices frontman's output over the years knows there is a lot of truth in that statement. The guy is a pop genius with a gift for packing catchy-as-hell melodies into quick two minute bursts. But ever since GBV broke up, it's felt like he has insisted on releasing all of the songs he's written on the crapper, not just the three-fifths that are good. Part of that might be the way he's recorded his solo albums for the past few years. Rather than go into the studio himself and hash things out, he's sent skeletal recordings of his songs to producer/multi-instrumentalist Todd Tobias, who then fleshed out the demos into fully realized recordings. Perhaps that way of working made it too easy for Uncle Bob to put every lyric and melody he dreamt up onto tape. His last few solo albums have certainly had some gems on them, but it felt like the ratio of great songs to filler was starting to slip.
For whatever reason, those quality control issues have been eliminated for his latest release. Maybe it's the fact that after several years of going it alone, he's back to being in a band. Boston Spaceships is rounded out by former GBV bassist Chris Slusarenko and Decemberists drummer Joen Moen, and the result of their collaboration is easily Pollard's best album in ten years. The press materials for Brown Submarine might promote the record's prog rock influences, but the overriding theme is best summed up by one of it's song titles... "Ready To Pop." All but one of the album's fourteen songs clock in at under three minutes, resulting in the tightest, most cohesive album Pollard has released since the GBV banner was retired four years ago. "Go For The Exit," "Two Girl Area," and "Andy Playboy" easily rank right up there with the best of the Bard of Dayton's body of work, while tracks like "Zero Fix" are powder kegs of pure pop/punk energy. Here's to hoping that this latest project isn't just a one off, and that Boston Spaceships can be seen in the night skies for quite some time.
Boston Spaceships - "Go For The Exit" (mp3)
Boston Spaceships play this Saturday, October 18, at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville, with openers The High Strung.