Keeping up with Robert Pollard must be an exhausting business. I reviewed his ‘… Is Off To Business’ LP last year and thought that ‘We All Got Out of the Army’ was his next release. Except it appears there have been 2 LPs after OTB and even another one since ‘… Army’ was released.
On the back of some good Guided By Voices LPs, I was looking forward to ‘Off To Business’. But his, what? 147th album, turned to be a something of a disappointment.
Pollard has always had a reputation for variable quality control but OTB was distinctive in my experience of his back catalogue that the songs were longer than normal and quite unmemorable.
‘… Army’ therefore marks a return to the briefer songs that he made his name with. In fact when the opening song ‘Silk Rotor’ appears to outstay its welcome it’s unceremoniously, and rather disconcertingly, truncated in full flow.
The benefit of the shorter form is that, if one song doesn’t grab you, then there will be another along in a couple of minutes. And on the first two or three listens ‘… Army’ impresses but nothing in particular jumps out.
Repeated listens reinforce that impression and it’s not because there are just a lot of songs to get used to. As usual there’s a lot of energy and ‘… Army’ again spans a lot of territory from the lo-fi acoustic of ‘Wild Girl’ to the discordant electronica of ‘Rice Train’. Default setting though remains garage rock but disapopintingly there are no stand-out tracks.
A video for one of the song on the LP: