My first new LP of 2012 is ‘Let’s Go Eat The Factory’ by the reformed (classic line-up) Guided By Voices.
I’m more familiar with latter period GBV so those parentheses have less resonance for me than for longer term fans. And having heard the lead single ‘Doughnut For The Snowman’ a couple of times before Christmas, my hopes weren’t that high for the record.
My first couple of listens of the whole LP didn’t raise my expectations much either. Rather they suggested that this is little more than a low-fi version of the latter day, more polished GBV records, recorded as it was in various basements. However subsequent listens revealed a far more surprising, and much stronger, record than I’d at first thought.
Sure, there’s plenty of classic GBV garage rock in here, in the shape of opening track ‘Laundry and Lasers’ with its electronic pulse or the melodic ‘The Unsinkable Fats Domino’. But more than any other GBV record that I’ve heard this is a varied listen.
There’s strings on ‘Hang Mr Kite’, the micro piano ballad ‘Spiderfighter’ , and even a couple of dissonant tracks such as ‘The Room Taking Shape’. Meanwhile there’s a trumpet on ‘Imperial Racehorsing’ and ‘The Big Hat and Toy Show’ could be a psychedelic Julian Cope b-side.
Most bizarre of all perhaps is the low-fi Arcade Fire does Auld Lang Syne of ‘Old Bones’ but actually looking at it in these terms it maybe makes more sense than I’m suggesting.
The last track turns out to be the longest. In fact ‘We Won’t Apologize for the Human Race’ reaches epic proportion in breaking the four minute barrier. And like a lot of the record, it’s really rather good.
With this variety of songs and the fact that more than half of the very short songs are under 2 minutes long (in fact two don’t even reach the 60 second mark) , there’s a danger that this could all have ended up sounding bitty. Very bitty. But the effect instead is the reverse as the variety somehow holds the whole enterprise together.
What repeated listens prove is that, rooted in amongst all the assorted jumble of the 21 tracks, there’s a hell of a lot of good songwriting.
A good way to start 2012.
I think this would have been my choice of single:
You can download the track for free from here.