Guided By Voices Universal Truths and Cycles

Was it inevitable that Robert Pollard and company would someday return to the breeding ground where they found their most success, or would returning to Matador be the last nail in the coffin? Whispers had been muttered louder than most can scream about how Pollard wouldn't be sticking around TVT much longer, a no-brainer really, given the early dismissal of last year's fantastic Isolation Drills. To see them back with Matador is a definite relief, as Universal Truths and Cycles harkens back to an earlier time in the band's career. It comes across more like 1997's Mag Earwhig! than any of their TVT output, with the 19 tracks switching back and forth between lo-fi and more produced sounding. As for the material itself, while overall the album may not be as solid as last year's Isolation Drills, there are a few gems - the ambitious "Cheyenne" and lead single "Everywhere With Helicopter" - that are among Pollard's finest. Will this be GBV's last record like some have been predicting? I sort of doubt it, but if by chance it is, at least Universal Truths and Cycles will not be the low point many assumed it would be. (Matador)