Lord Of The Birdcage
(2011, Guided by Voices Inc.)
The 2nd solo LP of 2011, following Space City Kicks, Pollard returned later in the year with a decent, but somewhat forgettable follow-up. For his next act, Lord Of The Birdcage, Pollard reportedly took a different approach to his song writing. The 12 tracks on the LP were apparently poems first-off, which Pollard then constructed music around. An inserting approach, perhaps. The end result? A rather mundane run of songs with some questionable (in quality) poems underneath as lyrics. This is not to imply Pollard does spoken-word under these, but some of the lines seem crammed in or rushed as Pollard finishes vocal melodies. None of these songs are bottom of the barrel on this one, but none really get thier claws into you on this easy-listening outing either.
Smashed Middle Finger- 3 Light, and surreal for starters. Cozy niche of a song to shut yourself off with. Vocals sound strained during the opening section. Song kicks into full on rock song, but plays out fairly awkwardly at times. Lyrics are terrible.
Aspersion- 4 Pollard still has a dynamic lead riff in him. Wisely played over driving punk-pop. Fist-pumping, head bobbing, leg kicking. Awesome, left-of-center drop-out and reentry with a completely different song.
Dunce Codex- 3 Sounds a bit like a Sebadoh song from Bakesale. Darker, colder, pop. Acoustically driven with electric leads. Sullen but comforting.
Garden Smarm- 3 Bouncy, and poppy-punk riff played safely by Tobias. Fairly toe-tapping most toe-tapping one of the bunch, with decent lyrics. Chorus is fairly flat.
You Can’t Challenge Forward Progress- 3 Mid-tempo, slowly swirling poetic warmness. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and listen to this guy.
In a Circle- 4 Waltzy-schmaltzy meditated grandeur. Sounds pretty paltry and laughable, but as this 4 and half minute waltz dances out, it somehow becomes fairly addictive and saddening. Kind of beautiful.
You Sold Me Quickly- 2 Stuttering, start stopper that’s one for the plopper. Here, Tobias mucks it up, Tobias-style. Not an enjoyable listen.
The Focus (Burning)- 2 If you’d pile drive yourself right into the meaning of “easy listening,” this would be the pile of pillows you’d plunge headfirst into. Nothing really happening here. Music seems to swell, and go away, and little piddle in. Pollard sing-talks his poetry throughout. Fade to white.
Ribbon of Fat- 3 Ugggh. What a title. Mid-tempo, poppy, and deceptively catchy. Pretty solid, enigmatic pop.
Silence Before Violence- 2 Multi-sectioned, detour of a song. Rhythmically, and lyrically sounds like an old European folk song. Explodes into mid-tempo, big rock. Pollard’s lost on his melodic search. Violin-sounding synths come in eventually. Fairly forgettable, and all over the place.
Holy Fire- 3 Short, dark, weirdly inviting pop-rock, dragged through the unforgiving black hole of the universe. Or just an off-the cuff song that’s listenable.
Ash Ript Telecopter- 3 Buzzing, punctuated guitar accents make the song. Boarders between prog and cock rock, with indie, Sonic Youthian-guitar jangle interludes. No real hook, but musically potent. Silly Uncle Bob baritone vocals at the end are always a treat.