Honey Locust Honky Tonk

Honey Locust Honky Tonk

Trying to explain Robert Pollard's appeal to someone not in his cult can either make sense to the potential new fan or simply result in more questions. It's rare for a record by an acclaimed songwriter to include three great songs that only clock in at 50 seconds ("Suit Minus the Middle"), 43 seconds ("I Have to Drink"), and one minute and 52 seconds (the R.E.M. dead ringer "I Killed a Man Who Looks Like You"), but that's what we get on Honey Locust Honky Tonk. Only on an album like this can a two-and-a-half-minute opener ("He Requested Things") and a three-plus-minute closer ("Airs") feel a bit overcooked. For those already in the know, Robert Pollard has released far too much music to surprise; anyone who's spent time with his band Guided by Voices is familiar with the sounds he prefers. Due to the brevity of Honey Locust Honky Tonk—17 songs in 34 minutes—it's worthy for both the fan who must have everything and for the newbie who must decide if this Pollard gentleman is someone worth knowing better. It's all here.

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