Thursday, January 16, 2014

Motivational Jumpsuit (2014)

Motivational Jumpsuit
(2014, Guided by Voices Inc.)

Album NUMBER 5 in the prodigious return of Guided by Voices! After Pollard announced in mid 2013 that GBV would most likely pass on recorded another LP, the ship continues to sail on. The machine perpetually churns. Keep it in motion!

 Motivation Jumpsuit's initial write up contained many comparisons to the free form flow of the classic mid-90s records. After the general murkiness of English Little League in 2013, this was some welcomed news! And by GEORGE, does it deliver. Motivational Jumpsuit is a packed, and swift record (20 songs in 38 minutes), that bounces around the full spectrum from straight rock to straight weird. A few hiccups and filler stains are dropped in, but the GBV engine for a new age continues chugging along. Additionally, the LP is the first reunion record to feature personnel change. Kevin March (former GBV from '01-'04) returns behind the kit after the firing of former drummer Kevin Fennell following an episode regarding the sale of drums on eBay and leaking private emails with Pollard. Whatever. Read about that one on your own time. 

ANNNND....with 20 more songs in the cannon, I sure hope GBV didn't tire themselves out. I mean, it's not like they'd go and release another LP less than 3 months later.  I mean, that'd be fucking crazy. Oh, wait. Check out the review to Cool Planet

Side A:
The Littlest League Possible- 5 Evokes the greatness of what makes GBV such a force to be reckon with. Upon first release, this short piece, complete with seemingly crap lyrics is a killer, highly charged kick in the pop teeth. The off-key guitar solo at the end is to die for. 

Until Next Time- Vocal melody sounds a bit made up on the spot, which ultimately works but to no great shakes.Short, and lingering.

Writer's Bloc (Psycho All the Time)- From its title, to its never ending guitar crunch stupidity, to its referential lyrics about trying to write something.... uggggh. From the "Writer's bloc, psycho all the time," refrain into the 2nd part of the song, it seems that this actually gets worse. Song is way too long for its own good, like this write up.

Child Activist- This track has an unbelievably cool feel to it. From its ticking percussion intro, slinking guitar lead, and psych back up riffs to the final conclusion, it's a short slice of right.

Planet Score- 5 Another modern day classic GBV track. Melody sounds copped from a heyday GBV anthem, but who gives a shit. A crunchy, tightly played summer garage pop rocker. Undeniably melancholy, and incredibly catchy.

Jupiter Spin- Tobin Sprout finally pops up on the record! Breezy, yet foreboding LSD tinged '60s pop. Somewhat unsettling, yet beautifully written. 

Save the Company- 5 A worthy inclusion to the top 5 tracks of the classic line-up reunion LPs. A mid-fi, reverb , crunchy ballad that is far more fist raising than schmaltzy. A new classic drinking song via GBV. Worth every repeated listen. Raise a glass, shed a tear of joy and regret, and save the company.

Go Without Packing- Bare acoustic track sounds like it's played in a dark room as Pollard croons, and appropriately backs himself up for desired effect. Short and haunting. 

Record Level Love- Tobin Sprout comes in with an upbeat, breezy jangle number that sounds more '80s via rather '60s. Sloppy in its execution, but the vocal melody is flat out great. The brevity keeps it fresh throughout. 

I am Columbus- Drawn out and short on ideas. A real stick in the mud tune. Drab and annoyingly pulsating to go along with lack of any real hook or worthy turn.

Side B:
Difficult Outburst and Breakthrough- Explodes onto the scene with some awkwardly constructed chords and melodies. But manages to catch enough cut and past magic in a bottle. 

Calling Up Washington- Some of the sparsest, and scrapped lyrics penned by Tobin Sprout for GBV. The song's not much better.

Zero Elasticity-  Has the initial feel to be a total hokey, bar rocker. When it finally turns, the song is insanely hooky, complete with patchwork backing harmonies. The guitar chug makes sense in context. 

Bird With No Name- 3 This track is about a inviting as a walk-in freezer in January. And it's a pretty damn solid filler track. Acoustic guitar beating with bellowed Pollard vocals, topped off with moody pedal driven electric guitar to bring it home. 

Shine (Tomahawk Breath)- This rather trudging, slow plea from Tobin Sprout is another gorgeous, pop tear-jerker. One of those songs that brings up a quick lapse of nostalgia you can't recall. 

Vote For Me Dummy- The title has the potential to be a real piece of used toilet paper. However, this track is like a reworked "Motor Away." When the outro of a song is just as good as the verse which is just about as good as the chorus... You know. 

Some Things Are Big (And Some Things Are Small)-  As grating, repetitive, and overtly sappy with its crummy orchestral section, I kind of like this one. This is a Tobin Sprout song that fails to bring on the tears as it seems to be aiming for. Mostly a pile of cheese, but benefits from a few revisits. 

Bulletin Boarders- 3 Bombastic guitar static hammers away while Pollard delivers a decent, but lacking, melody. Short and rather formless. 

Evangeline Dandelion- 2 This song's a whole lotta nothing. Tries to sounds like a classic GBV track, but the melody doesn't really work, the title's silly as all hell. Nahhh.

Alex and the Omegas- 4 A propulsive, fist raising, banner waving, stadium rocker closes out this packed GBV record. No particular great hook. Just a pounding, start-stop crunch with genuine feeling. 


  1. just listened to side 1. some damn good rock and roll. not as varied as the earlier reunion albums.

  2. Just to be geek, a mistake I've seen way too many times, Kevin Fenel DOES NOT play drums on this album. and I'd have thought that was obvious :P

    1. Oh I’m aware. I put that in the intro... Kevin March is such a solid drummer. I don’t hate on Fennell but March is a natural.

  3. just noticed for the first time that, for some reason, the lyrics to "Bird with no name" are omitted from the lyrics sheet.