Force Fields At Home
(2013, Guided By Voices)
Released the same day as Robert Pollard's solo outing Honey Locust Honky Tonk, Pollard's new side-project for 2013 comes to the masses under the fresh moniker, Teenage Guitar. This is the 2nd new Pollard side-project of 2013, the other being the fairly unlistenable The Sunflower Logic with their EP Clouds On The Polar Landscape EP. Like The Sunflower Logic, Teenage Guitar is recorded at Pollard's home studio, The Public Hi-Fi Balloon. And like The Sunflower Logic, all of the music was improvised and recorded on the spot. The major difference between the two, Teenage Guitar is surprisingly accessible. A main factor in this, Pollard does not seemingly record his vocals in one take while the tape's rolling, as seems the be the case with Sunflower Logic. What sets Teenage Guitar apart from a Sunflower Logic listening session; Pollard's put thought into actual melodies.
This is not to say that Teenage Guitar won't be written off as another throw-away, avant-trash LP, which a certain chunk of it actually may be. However, Force Fields At Home manages to swing favorably in the spirited improvisational nature of Pollard with refreshing results. It's a door that so often has swung wildly off the hinges, but here manages to stay on the rails.
For fans of Howling Wolf Orchestra, Acid Ranch, and certain Circus Devils tracks.
Court Of Lions- 4 This improved instrumental section sounds like a trillion and twelve different throwbacks to GBV tracks, as well as a ton of other ramshackle rock, garage, lo-fi tracks. Still, it's great. Pollard's layered melodies make it an somewhat unexpected kick in the pants to start off this side-project.
Come See The Supermoon- 3 OK! Real Acid Ranch type stuff. Sullen, black tar at the bottom of the dark barrel type looping low end stuff with some beat poetry and some singing. YET, it's moody and interesting enough vocally that there's something cryptically Pollardian to appreciate.
Current Pressings, Color And Styles- 4 Under a minute. BOOM. Completely stupid throw-away melody line and vocal melody over scotch-taped n4onsense. But I'll be damned if this little league attempt at GBV won't get stuck in your head after a few listens.
Still Downstairs- 3 Piano stuff sounds as if it sound break into "Don't Stop Now" off Under The Bushes Under The Stars. But the warbled track continues on with its moody, dusty-attic sounding recording.
8 Bars Of Meaningless Mathilda- 4 Guitar and vocal track that's perfect short Pollard pop. Sounds like it could've seen time on Fast Japanese Spin Cycle back in the day, if not written 20 years later. 34 seconds.
Harvest Whale- 2 Sad-acoustic track that's little frills vocal wise, but actually gets bogged down by the reverberating "burping," toy noise-maker effect.
Strangers For A Better Society -4 Just over a minute. Fairly steady guitar down-stroke and drum stomp. Classic Pollard, declarative speak-sing in his faux Brit-accent. Tip your hat to the old hat.
It Takes A Great Promise- 2 Piano and tin-can vocal track play through this 3 minute, moody tune. Whatever effect is captured in the hushed, shaky Pollard vocal delivery is soon lost over a fairly laborious 3 minutes.
It Doesn't Mean I'm Underground- 3 Dower, piano pounding that's pretty much bullshit, but Pollard's lo-fi tragic melodic line fills out the gaps, making this a rather rewarding. A short, closing fit to Side A.
Baby Apple- 2 Total shambolic guitar and drum intro to Side B. Get Out Of My Stations and Clown Prince... called and want their outtakes back. Doesn't amount to much.
Peter Pan Can- 5 The tune is reminiscent of early pre-GBV stuff that's fairly prevalent on the original Suitcase collection. A ramshackle rendition of brit-pop. The drums are ten miles behind the single-chord strum of the guitar, and melodic roadway of the bass, but Pollard's unstable vocals turn this into a gem.
Alice And Eddie (Fabulous Child Actors)- 3 Another sad-sac piano track that sounds like the intro to "Don't Stop Now." Rather formless, but Pollard holds down a solid, down-trodden form throughout the lo-fi piano rattle.
Alfred Never- 1 Sounds like a straight up Acid Ranch outtake. And that's sayin' a thing or two.
Gymnasium Politics- 3 This track is almost humorous in a great way. You can almost hear Pollard having fun with this, calling back classic GBV, and his time with noisier takes with Acid Ranch and Howling Wolf Orchestra. Decent hook on throughout his multi-layered vocals, over a beyond haphazard assemblage of upbeat instrumentation.
Atlantic Cod- 5 Another classic take on simple guitar progressions recalling Guided by Voices and a wonderfully, multi-layered Pollard harmony. It's tough, after a few listens, to not accidentally file this away under the '90s GBV part of your brain. Released as the single to this, it's easy to see why this short cut took the trophy.
Suburban Cycle Saccharine- 2 Fluttering, "At Odds With Dr. Genesis" keyboard shit, with forceful Pollard vocals over it. You know you've heard this before by Pollard somewhere, but not in the highlights bin.
Post Card To Pinky- 4 Melancholy, end credits piano plopping with out-of-left-field guitar leads popping in. Pollard almost formulates a decent melody at times over this fairly sappy piano nonsense. The combo of it all makes it oddly personal, and somewhat incredible. Underneath the mess, it all makes sense. "I'm Bleeding everywhere," vocal delivery is just awesome.
Let Me- 2 Just over a minute guitar tremolo and vocal tremolo ending. Appropriate throw-away outro, but a rather bullshit outro invoking Acid Ranch stuff.