Robert Pollard & His Soft Rock Renegades Choreographed Man of War

A while back I was a big GBV fan, but the releases started coming so fast and furiously that I literally couldn’t keep up with them or even tell them apart anymore. I went cold turkey and haven’t really heard anything from them (or their infinite side projects and offshoots) for quite a few years. So, it was with more than a little curiosity that I slid these three releases into the player. And it was pretty much what I remembered: lots of bleary guitars and songs that sound like Brit Invasion outtakes played over an AM car radio on a station whose signal has been skipping off the ionosphere on a clear night on its way from someplace mysterious, like Buffalo or Syracuse. Pollard’s magic has always been that his music sounds fresh and at the same time nostalgic. The fidelity is generally better than early GBV releases but the aesthetic is the same. The songs are not always fully formed, but that’s both part of their charm and part of their downfall. The Soft Rock Renegades record is the strongest throughout and, not surprisingly, Sprout’s Demos & Outtakes is the most variable. Sometimes you can go back home again. (Luna)