The original Guided By Voices lineup has at last reunited for the first time in 15 years, and with the release of Let’s Go Eat The Factory comes the return of their iconic lo-fi, garage band sound.
Starting with the electrifying opener “Laundry and Lasers,” it’s clear that lead singer Robert Pollard’s adulation for rock’s glory days hasn’t waned. For a weathered 50-something, his faux British accent and screwball lyrics still impose an intimidating presence. And though only half of the album’s 21 unfocused tracks reach two minutes in length, Factory is a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Many songs sound as if they were fleshed out in a single session, forgoing any refinement in studio. A few of these snippets, like “How I Met My Mother,” build on some perfectly adequate guitar and bass hooks, but the band’s spontaneous recording style prevents these promising songs from reaching their full potential. The amount of patience you might have for this type of frivolous rock depends on your tolerance for low-fidelity recording. Squeaky 4-track tapes, suppressed drum tracks, and unpolished guitar riffs haven’t been used this thoroughly since 1994’s Bee Thousand.
Thanks to digital music, sifting through the clutter of a Guided By Voices release has never been easier. This latest collection is hit-or-miss, but the gems within it are worth the search.