Please Be Honest is, in all honesty, a Robert Pollard solo album. After reforming Guided by Voices' "classic line-up," which lasted between 2012 and 2014 (a period in which they released a staggering six full-lengths), Pollard has resurrected the GBV name, writing, recording and playing every instrument throughout this LP's 15 tracks. Considering Pollard frequently puts out recordings under his own name (his 22nd solo album came just a month ago), it remains curious as to what exactly makes Please Be Honest a Guided By Voices album.
The answer may reside in the character of the music contained within, as Pollard has managed to release some of his most exploratory and experimental songs since his band's early '90s days. As Pollard's last batch of solo (and side) releases have proven, he's at his weakest and meekest when trying to fly the "underappreciated rocker" flag, so it's a relief that tracks like "Kid on a Ladder," "Glittering Parliaments" and the title track come off big and brash without feeling dumb, employing singular and eccentric melodies that allow Pollard to freely fuck with their creative edifices. Much of Please Be Honest is filled with mid-tempo material, but unlike his recent work, Pollard seems obsessed with guitar textures and vocal effects here, making Please Be Honest an intriguing success.
This time around it's more about what the latest incarnation of Guided By Voices isn't than what it is, but at this point in Pollard's career, we'll take it. (Guided By Voices Inc.)