Published Feb 01, 2000When Guided By Voices first began to delve into bigger sounds a few years back, it proved difficult to stray too far from the faithful old four-track. With the release of this month'sDo The Collapse , their eleventh album, GBV meets face to face with Mr. Big Sound and shakes his hand. Bandleader and songsmith Robert Pollard is eager to dissect his current pop work.
"I consider Under The Bushes, Under The Stars (1996) and Mag Earwhig (1997) to be mid-fi. We still sprinkled four-track and eight-track songs amongst those records. Do The Collapse - it's readymade for radio for the first time." Recently signing on with TVT has given the band new hope, after reaching a self-described plateau in terms of exposure and record sales with former label Matador. Pollard embraces the changes wholeheartedly. "It's good to start over about every three albums or so."
With ex-Car-turned-producer Ric Ocasek in their corner, GBV has opened themselves to new elements, lifting Pollard's songs out of the swamp they sometimes lurked in. . "The thing that really tickles me is the strings actual real strings- for the first time, not a Casio or something."
Indeed, radio friendliness is at its peak for the band. For the first time, Pollard and co. have steered away from weird production techniques and eccentricities. All sixteen songs sound remarkably clear, all the guitar solos are searing, and it's without a doubt one of their best records yet. "Hold on Hope," "Dragons Awake," and "Wrecking Now" even benefit from the presence of a string quartet. "It was the first time I ever had someone arrange and conduct strings. It's something I would like to continue to do. We're trying to get a string quartet to play those three songs in concert and have Ric Ocasek come out and play, if we can swing that. We'll be like the fuckin' Moody Blues or something."