Published May 15, 2014Guided By Voices' career has started to resemble seasons of the decades-long UK soap opera, Coronation Street. New albums are as frequent as afternoon reruns and the suspense of the saga stems from guessing what line-up of members make the best combination. In the case of Cool Planet, Tobin Sprout continues to be the necessary calming element to Pollard's boisterous songwriting, and ex-late version GBV drummer Kevin March is back on drums (replacing Kevin Fennell).
For their sixth album since their 2010 reformation, the tempo has been slowed down. This accounts for a more refined sound, well-rounded lyrical structure and master musicianship; this may also be because it's the first time since 2010 that the band has opted to go into one studio and cut a whole record together. Either way, it works. "Psychotic Crush" is a bona fide GBV rock song, but somehow the timing is off; the transient, psych-rock feel to the track gives it girth, but the slower tempo causes it to lack drive. "Narrated by Paul" and "Ticket to Hide" showcase Sprout's fascination with the Beatles, while "All-American Boy" is a Bowie-esque piano ballad. (Guided By Voices Inc.)