Let It Beard
(2011, Guided by Voices Inc.)
The 5th, and what is said to be final LP from the short, but promisingly good Boston Spaceships. The trio goes out with a real heavy-loaded bang on this one. Well, more loaded than bang perhaps. Let It Beard is a double LP, crammed with 26 tracks. Originally rumored to be upwards of 40, the LP was trimmed down to this 70+ minute chunk of music. Like previous Boston Spaceships releases, there's plenty of quality to be found here (mostly on Side D!), however, there's plenty of clunkers, head-scratchers, and ho-hum stone kickers on this too.
Like Circus Devils Sgt. Disco, or Pollard's From A Compound Eye, Let It Beard is a challenging and time consuming record. One must weed through it to find some of the bright spots. Still, it's sad to see Boston Spaceships go. However, as Pollard proved in '11 with the reuniting of GBV, nothing is forever, and, perhaps, nothing is sacred.
Blind 20-20- 5 Who's ready for a mini rock opera to kick things off? Well hang on to your fucking hat! "Blind 20-20" is a full bag of Pollard's famous four "P"s (punk, pop, psych, and prog) all in just over 3 minutes. Unlike some Pollard mini-rock assemblages, this one works!
Juggernaut Vs. Monolith- 3 As in previous Boston Spaceships LP's, this one finds another rehashed Pollard track from the past, this originally appearing on Suitcase 3 as a demo. Buzzing revamp that adds fuel where the demo previously fizzled. Short, attitude soaked kick-starter.
Tourist UFO- 3 The man loves his fucking UFO's. Mid-70s type, semi-gloom tune. Fairly hooky, if you just go with it. Slow builder. Rainy day rock epic. Could do with that extended guitar solo outro.
Minefield Searcher- 4 I think this might have been a Tommy-era The Who song that Pollard added vocals too? I mean, listen to that damn bass line. Not sure, but looking into the matter. No I'm not. That's a waste of time. Just listen to this.
Make A Record For Lo-Life- 3 Fairly meandering, slower pop number. Lazy vocal hooks in the disappointing sense. Gets stuck in your head though, but kind of in that "oh shit it's in there" kind of way.
Let More Light Into The House- 2 Ethereal, acoustic plucking opening with soundscape, plate-reverb ringing around. Sounds like a quieter Circus Devils type song. Track stops, and comes in as a murky, depressing, slow march to death. A lot of mirth in the 5 minutes. Appropriately named.
You Just Can't Tell- 4 New-wave vocal stylings over taught, buzz barrage. This one leans on the brink of the Pollard weird-zone, a place where decent songs sometimes fall past the point of silliness and madness. This one just keeps a foot grounded in reality.
Chevy Marigold- 1 An icky, icky song complete with gross "Gimme Shelter"-esque, soulful backing vocals. But soulful on the Adult Contemporary sense of things. Annoying hook. Terrible lyrics. At least it's short.
Earmarked For Collision- 3 Pollard flies his prog flag high on this one. Start-stop guitar jabs complete with melodic bassline that sometimes sound almost too busy. Prog build-up near the end. Pretty good. Pretty PROGressive.
Toppings Take The Cake- 2 1 minute plus, fairly catchy, no-gusto track that suddenly has accented parts that sound like a monster truck rally.
Tabby And Lucy- 4 Hell yeah! Vintage stuff here. Reminiscent of something off Brown Submarine. Storytelling mode is out and flaunted. Complete with solid choruses, and killer out-of-left field bridge. Is this a Half Smiles of The Decomposed lost track?
(I'll Make It) Strong For You- 2 Baritone Bob come out of the gates, limping, with some gloomy melody, and dank acoustic strums. Cold, unwelcoming track. "Strong," this song is not.
A Hair In Every Square Inch Of The House- 1 Tuning guitars and shit into 6/4 time pound-away. Shows some promise when it kicks in but then.... more tuning and random banging. Different song comes in? Some real cut and paste territory here. 5 minutes that bogs down the record. Fun, I guess. No place in the middle of a 70 minute LP.
The Ballad Of Bad Whiskey- 3 Similar feel to GBV's "The Finest Joke Is Upon Us" or "Big Boring Wedding." Unlike those two, though, this fails to really deliver. Average at best choruses drift away without much punch.
I Took On The London Guys- 2 Some pretty idiotic lyrics here. Pollard's Brit accent is pretty potent on this rumbling, overcast song. Can't keep a good faux accent down when mentioning London.
Red Bodies- 3 Rough and tumble, hard-rock prog. Drums rumble away. Cool violin, guitar call and response outro! Nice job Slusarenko.
A Dozen Blue Overcoats- 2 Short piano and rickety guitar, cryptic ballad for a rainy day. Song nearly propels into something but ultimately fades into the more more upbeat...
Pincushion- 4 Short, terse punk song similar to feel of "You Just Can't Tell" off Side-B.
Christmas Girl- 4 The advertised single off the LP. A nervous, frenzied 6/4 pop attack that is unfortunately more memorable for the trumpet lead than Pollard's poorly delivered, out-of-tune vocals on the choruses. Just misses the mark.
Let It Beard- 1 I love this title. But hearing Pollard crooning it 3 times to open the song and rhyming it with "and get all weird," just plain hurts. AND THEN, as if twisting the dagger, it's repeated again. Speaking of getting "all weird," this song, much like the LP, doesn't really know its identity.
The Vicelords- 2 Half part punk and prog. This Side-D opener packs some punch in the guitar wall of sound delivery, but fails to really materialize into anything more than a repetitive, 3 1/2 minute track.
German Field Of Shadows- 4 Great tom pounding opening complete with droning fake horn blasts. And that heavy bass line! Ahhhh, such a cool track of doom and triumph.
Speed Bumps- 4 Pollard sings a rather silly melody over a simple as soup guitar riff. Neither style fits together. Then a piano sweep pops in. And in short, this is almost perfect. (but seriously, these lyrics have stink lines).
No Steamboats- 5 Wispy, acoustic guitar interplay while Pollard sings a wonderfully in-tune double harmony. Damn, why do Boston Spaceships always leave the good stuff for the end? Several pop melodies are unveiled in this acoustic gem.
You In My Prayer- 4 Guitar-lead prone to make school kids skip in unison, before breaking into disjointed hard-rock tune better suited to help prog kids march in unison. A nice call to arms. "DON'T FORGET THE CATS!"
Inspiration Points- 4 This, like the closer from The Planets Are Blasted, is a 4 part closer. Part 1: mic-twirling, toe-touch cock rocker that kinda rules. Part 2: a heavily acoustic rock song. Pollard digs The Who again on this. Part 3: lame, oversexualized snippet appropriately referred to at "Human Amusements At Hourly Rates." Part 4: A pounding guitar wall that brings this monster of a record to a close. Phew.... Let It Beard, my friends!