Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Crawling Distance (2009)

The Crawling Distance
(2009, Guided by Voices Inc.)

Pollard's back in action, releasing his first of two solo-LPs of 2009.  The Crawling Distance like it's predecessor, Robert Pollard Is Off To Business, is another fairly short outing song count wise (10 tracks!). Unlike that record, The Crawling Distance marks the first time in a while that the majority of a Pollard LP is flat-out... well... bad.  The LP is full of leftovers, and second-rate leftovers at that. Tainted with too much Tobias over-production (i.e. Earthquake Glue), some songs sound like scrapped ideas from Circus Devils recordings.  Overall, the LP does contain the wonderful single, "The Butler Stands For All Of Us," which was also released as the A-side on a limited, 5 song 7''

Faking My Harlequin- 3 Steady, piano lead, stream-lined rocker. Minor hooks, vocal wise. Breaks into general synth backed weirdness, and pulsating volume swells. “Just My luck, yea” repeated, ad nauseum. Hypnotically decent.

Cave Zone- 1 Bizarre, senseless stomping idiocracy, with guitar chords that boarder on nearly catchy but progress into what sounds like wrong notes, and self-indulgent testosterone overloads.

Red Cross Vegas Night- 2 Old-school GBV acoustic intro with classic Pollard vocal overdubs. Unlike old GBV, it takes too long to “get to the point,” where it ultimately falls flat into a newer bloated Pollard stomp-rocker.

The Butler Stands for All of Us- 5 simple main riff holds this patchwork song together. Jogging along the run of the mill verse, the song treads water for a bit, shedding promise before arriving at a subtle but effective mini-chorus?  Breaks into a proggy, meandering middle section that still ends rather subtly catchy. Oddly satisfying.

It’s Easy- 2 Plodding acoustic driven intro spills into poorly lackluster lavish balladry. Far too long and unmemorable. Originally on the original Suitcase box set.

No Island- 2 Decent mid-temp guitar strummer intro falls into a poorly planned plodding number. Pollard sets up plenty of vocal opportunities to strike gold, but disregards them for bullshit meandering chord juxtapositions and tone-deaf vocal bends. A loooooonnnng 4 and a half minutes.

By Silence Be Destroyed-  2 Tempo’s finally picked up. Guitar and bass slides permeate this track, disguised as a hard rocker. The chorus proves to be potential for a saving grace, but turns up emptier than the uninspired verses.

Imaginary Queen Ann- 2 Adult contemporary, while seemingly copping some sorta Matchbox 20 guitar lead? Misses the mark on both verse and choruses. Gets respective points for its brevity.

On Shortwave- 1 Another plodder of a song. Meditative opening, with cello backing sounds dated. Attempts at getting epic prove futile. Hit the snooze-button.

Too Much Fun (Is Too Much Fun)- 1 Out of left field, synth drenched, tempo-shifting grab bag that could have been on Circus Devils Sgt. Disco.  Sounds like 3 or 4 song ideas weaved together. Too much Sgt. Pepper’s daydreaming went into this one, perhaps.


  1. This is an album I've never been able to get into. Just finished listening to side 1, which didn't change my opinion. Currently listening to "No Island" and enjoying it, it develops unpredictably.

  2. listening to this again. been wondering if i should sell some of my vinyl that i don't listen to very often. This is on my tentative culling list.

  3. You know there's a few blind Pollard fans out there when a bunch of them say this is his best album.

    1. There are only two bad Pollard solo albums, and this is definitely not one of them. Motel of Fools and Superman was a Rocker actually suck.

  4. This album sucks... why was I so hard on Jack Sells the Cow. THIS is the worst Pollard album. And by quite a stretch.

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  6. Not a great album overall, but it does contain The Butler Stands For All Of Us, so all is forgiven.

  7. The phrasing, and vocals generally, would push No Island to a 4 for me too.

  8. Imaginary Queen Anne is underrated.

  9. No Island is one of my all-time favourite from Pollard. Though it opens side B, I consider it one of the finest closing tracks for a mixtape. Butler is the other obvious standout. Two absolute gems.

  10. Dear Lord, I forgot Faking My Harlequin is also in here. That's a Top 10 Pollard song in my book. All tension, no release.