While it would've been much more interesting to see this indie slack king reinvented as a crooner of torch songs, on his new album, From a Compound Eye, Robert Pollard is the same Dayton guy we know and love.
There are 26 new tracks, none more fetching than the first -- a slow-build, harmonica-driven beauty, with Pollard defiant still: "When I'm gone, I'll be gone." He's not, and neither is the basic Guided by Voices sound. Effortless melodies arise from clangy guitar fugues with less rhythmic pounding than latter-day GBV, but nonetheless wrapped in that warm, fuzzy cobble-fi. There's lots of jangle ("Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft," "Cock of the Rainbow," "I'm a Strong Lion"), while the strutting-rocker side of his persona lives on "I'm a Widow," an epilogue to Cheap Trick's "He's a Whore."
With so many songs, there are bound to be some structural jumps. "U.S. Mustard Company" is one of the most polished ballads Pollard's ever done. And the general vibe is murkier. But there are the requisite minute-long instrumentals and a few repetitive prog-offs ("Kensington Cradle," "Conqueror of the Moon"). Things start to blur two-thirds in. Thanks to Pollard's idiosyncratic, easy melodic style, there's nary an outright bad tune -- it's just lulling by the end. But to Pollard's army, more is always best, and in that, Pollard doesn't disappoint.