REVIEW: Guided By Voices – ‘The Bears For Lunch’
Guided By Voices’ The Bears For Lunch is finally here. Opening with heavy, procession-esque strumming of “King Arthur The Red” balanced by some lighter, pop melodies, it is clear that GBV has made a persistent attempt to move away from their lo-fi past without disappointing their fans.
Disappoint they do not. Guided By Voices has tapped into their roots, referencing their early work with repetitive, lyrics and wirey, almost-psychedelic guitar effects on “The Corners Are Glowing.” This album is drunk on far-away vocals, simple guitar parts, and their mastery of the wall of sound technique. It sounds as if GBV never stopped recording in their garage, and if they haven’t, good on them.
“The Challenge Is Much More” is certainly the high watermark of this album. Lyrics, “we sent our uncle over there/ told him how to dress and comb his hair/ told him not to worry about the score./ The challenge is much more. He drove the bargain very hard;/ churned it up, but kept it in the yard” greatly contrast the more repetitive and less-analytical material that GBV is known for. The band’s approach to Jefferson’s Native American policies is quite interesting, taking an interesting perspective from both sides, “The Challenge” on one, and “White Flag” on the other.
“Waking Up The Stars” is the loveliest, most emotionally infused track on the album, with beautiful, acoustic guitar plucking drizzled with light, handcrafted lyrics. GBV does a great job with the layering on this album, slowly drifting from their typical, droning wall of sounds, and weaving tantalizing melodies beneath their heavy sheets of reverb. I would like to hear a hi-fi, version though. Bring the vocals up front, (like they are in Alien Lanes) and really put some funds into the production aspect. This of course, would be very un-GBV.
The Bears For Lunch being the band’s third album of 2012, GBV continues to pour out work in its infamous, prodigious fashion. Already hard at work on English Little League, the band’s next release, it is rumored that GBV fans can be expecting an album every six months from here on out. I must admit, I’m skeptical. A return to GBV roots can only hold out for so long, especially at a production rate this high, I fear an eventual-and likely permanent- sophomore burnout of the classic GBV lineup. “I think the tour went so well, it felt so good to be back together, it was just natural that we would start making records again,” Fennell said to Rolling Stone. “Everyone’s just really inspired.”
Essential tracks: “The Challenge is Much More,” “She Lives In An Airport,” “Waking Up The Stars”
- King Arthur The Red
- The Corners Are Glowing
- Have A Jug
- Hangover Child
- Dome Rust
- Finger Gang
- The Challenge Is Much More
- Waving At Airplanes
- The Military School Dance Dismissal
- White Flag
- Skin to Skin Combat
- She Lives In An Airport
- Tree Fly Jet
- Waking Up The Stars
- Up Instead Of Running
- Smoggy Boy
- Amorphous Surprise
- You Can Fly Anything Right
- Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere