Guided By Voices Please Be Honest on LP + Download
New 2016 GBV Album with Robert Pollard Playing All of the Instruments
Robert Pollard wrote and recorded and played all the instruments on Please Be Honest, and when he finished, it felt to him like a Guided By Voices record. He's not wrong. The songs are compact and tuneful, the playing expertly slack, the production raw and unpolished: sounds pretty much like every review of Bee Thousand. A better cognate, however, might be Vampire on Titus, Pollard's 1993 pre-Bee Thousand (somewhat overlooked) lo-fi tour de force. On that record, Pollard similarly played every instrument – though his drumming skills then were so rudimentary that he had to record the bass drum and the snare parts separately, which is no longer the case – and as with everything he does, it's about the songs, man.
Of which Please Be Honest has no shortage, 15 of them clocking in at just over 33 minutes. The point being there's precedent for a GBV record where Pollard plays everything, and maybe more importantly there's a reason for that precedent. Robert Pollard is Guided By Voices. This has never not been true, certainly, and is now more true than ever. He delights in confounding expectations, and you have to at least suspect that after over 20 years of making records under any number of pseudonyms, of which Guided By Voices is just one, and maybe not even his favorite one, he chafes at the notion that there exists some Platonic ideal of "Guided By Voices" that isn't just Bob writing and recording the songs with whatever musicians he wants to use.
Guided By Voices' new live line-up reflects not just a possibly subconscious desire to prove that unalterable fact, but fits with Pollard's unchanging changeability. He does what he wants. He is who he is. The only "classic lineup" that has ever mattered is singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/band leader/magician/thunderstorm Robert Pollard. Long may he reign.