On Second Thought
Guided By Voices - Under The Bushes Under The Stars






for better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.

After a string of essential albums (Vampire On Titus, Bee Thousand, and Alien Lanes), Guided By Voices showed that they were getting a little tired with the pace of which the were writing, working, and touring. The songwriting on Under The Bushes Under The Stars is astounding, but unfortuantely it suffers from its production. It sounds fine, but the songs are performed as if they were trying too hard to make a decent album. This album, being the first recorded in a studio, just comes out a bit flat. Only a handful are as passionate as "Gold Star For Robot Boy," "Watch Me Jumpstart," "Closer You Are," or "Wished I Was A Giant." It really is a shame, because these songs are, indeed, fantastic.

When I first heard Under The Bushes Under The Stars I really thought it was pretty uneventful, until I heard Jellyfish Reflector. I highly recommend that album, because the first half of the live show is Under The Bushes Under The Stars, but excellently performed with Guided By Voices' drunken charm. After hearing that album, I slowly began to appreciate all that Under The Bushes Under The Stars has to offer, which is still alot: "Don't Stop Now," "Official Iron Men Rally Song," "Cut-Out Witch," and "Your Name Is Wild" are essential, without a doubt. Under The Bushes Under The Stars is definitely for the patient listener. And, having spent a great deal of time with it, I like it.


By: Sean Wright
Published on: 2003-09-01
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