18 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Guided by Voices never seem to run out of ideas. Four months after 2014's Motivational Jumpsuit, the group have returned with Cool Planet. It was recorded during the coldest winter in years, with Robert Pollard working in a studio in Ohio and Tobin Sprout recording in his home studio in Wisconsin. Throw the results together, and you have an 18-track album that comes as close as any GBV album at distilling their essence. Songs such as “Table at Fool’s Tooth,” “Pan Swimmer,” “You Get Every Game,” “Bad Love Is Easy to Do," and “The No Doubters” feel like songs that were worked on as opposed to being the product of immediate gratification. This is often courtesy of drummer Kevin March, who gives the songs an extra tightness. Sprout certainly comes through with the piano-based “All American Boy,” “Narrated by Paul," and the acoustic “Ticket to Hide,” three of the album’s best songs. Why this album above many others? Apparently, Lady Luck was smiling down on the GBV boys this cycle. Either that or the band members really respond to polar vortexes.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Guided by Voices never seem to run out of ideas. Four months after 2014's Motivational Jumpsuit, the group have returned with Cool Planet. It was recorded during the coldest winter in years, with Robert Pollard working in a studio in Ohio and Tobin Sprout recording in his home studio in Wisconsin. Throw the results together, and you have an 18-track album that comes as close as any GBV album at distilling their essence. Songs such as “Table at Fool’s Tooth,” “Pan Swimmer,” “You Get Every Game,” “Bad Love Is Easy to Do," and “The No Doubters” feel like songs that were worked on as opposed to being the product of immediate gratification. This is often courtesy of drummer Kevin March, who gives the songs an extra tightness. Sprout certainly comes through with the piano-based “All American Boy,” “Narrated by Paul," and the acoustic “Ticket to Hide,” three of the album’s best songs. Why this album above many others? Apparently, Lady Luck was smiling down on the GBV boys this cycle. Either that or the band members really respond to polar vortexes.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.4 out of 5
7 Ratings

7 Ratings

kuyman ,

A great GBV record

I've been a Guided by Voices fan since I was a little kid when a friend with some cool older brothers played Earthquake Glue for me. As a serious listener and amateur collector of all things Bob Pollard, Cool Planet is a great record. It doesn't have the pop power of Motivational Jumpsuit (which I would consider their best record since 2004's Half Smiles of the Decomposed), and some of the newness of the "reunion" may mean casual fans might end up skipping this release (a mistake), but it does have a tremendous range of songs that are full of details in a way that only GBV songs seem to be. This alone makes this a great record.

Robert Pollard is undoubtedly the most prolific musician of all time. This record -- which may be GBV's 21st or 22nd (Pollard can't remember, and not even I have them all) -- is testament to that kind of work effort. It's admirable that at this point in their ~30 year career, GBV can cut a new record at all. That they can continue to churn out albums of this quality this frequently is unheard of.

In Cool Planet, you get brooding low-key ballads, power pop tunes that'll be stuck in your head for weeks, and everything in between. But maybe most importantly, you get a record that shows the tremendous talent of Robert Pollard and company to put together a product that seems absolutely finished (something that some GBV releases have been missing -- particularly last year's English Little League [songs from which are almost totally absent from the current tour]) in hardly no time at all.

There are quite a few standout tracks from this record. I really love "Bad Love is Easy to Do", a catchy pop song with a nice vocal play between band members. "Table at Fool's Tooth", "Authoritarian Zoo", and "Males of Wormwood Mars" are other particularly strong tracks by Pollard on this record. There's a really strong influence of playing together as a band on this album, something that's occasionally been missing on previous releases. In addition to Bob's songs, Tobin Sprout's cuts are the best on this record they've been since "Class Clown Spots a UFO". "All American Boy" is almost a perfect Guided by Voices song, and the rest aren't far behind.

Pick up a copy of this record before they run out. You'll enjoy it. Go see the tour before it's over. But don't despair if you miss out -- there's always the next one. And that's how we like it.

djstein ,

Becoming one of my favorites

I have most of GBV's albums, including the new ones before this, and the more I listen to this, the more I like it. Each song has its strength. Narrated by Paul is a gem. It seems like they finally put all the pieces together.

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