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CD Review: Robert Pollard

Elephant Jokes (Guided by Voices)

Elephant Jokes is one of six albums that Dayton native Robert Pollard has in the pipeline this year. It promises "inspired spontaneity," and with 22 cuts whizzing by in 46 minutes, it certainly delivers. Pretty much everything here is a two-minute chunk of Pollard's typical work. "Things Have Changed (Down in Mexico City)" is kind of a weird choice for an opening song — it's minor-chord heavy, coupled with a dark drum part, and Pollard's voice sounds a bit exhausted. But things thankfully pick up steam over the next couple of songs. "Johnny Optimist" features a sunny guitar riff, while "When a Man Walks Away" has a triumphant chorus. Elephant Jokes seems like it's front-loaded with more straightforward rocking material that casual fans of Pollard and Guided By Voices will find more palatable. Cuts from the back half of the album — like "Hippsville (Where the Frisbees Fly Forever)" or even "Architectural Nightmare Man" — find Pollard branching out ever so slightly. The former is a paean to a lackadaisical "seven or eight years" of college, while the latter features a minute of Pollard's staccato electric-guitar strumming before it opens up into something more vast. The album is a solid snapshot of Pollard at this moment in his history. — Jeremy Willets

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