On Second Thought
Guided By Voices - Do The Collapse

ith the release of their first fully produced album, Do The Collapse, Bob Pollard divided his cult following in unequal halves. Prior to Do The Collapse, Mag Earwig! hinted at a cleaner sound, but it was balanced by a melange of basement-like recordings and song fragments. This time they put out 16 full songs, all of which are more than a minute in length. Many critics may have been distracted by Ric Ocasek's signature production, when compared with their honestly sloppy earlier recordings. Another arguement is the complaint that Bob Pollard's songwriting is not up to snuff to the gems he had released on Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Under The Bushes Under The Stars, and Mag Earwig!.

Here are the facts:

The majority of these songs are fantastic played live. The band has cut the synthesizers out of the recording, and play them for what they are: very well written songs. "Teenage F.B.I.," "In Stitches," "Zoo Pie," "Surgical Focus," and "Things I Will Keep" are show stoppers.

"Teenage F.B.I.," "Surgical Focus," and "Hold On Hope" were very good radio singles in their versions that appeared on Do The Collapse. "Dragons Awake," "Much Better Mr. Buckles," "Wormhole," "Liquid Indian," and "Wrecking Now" are very good due to the production. Not because they are not well written, but because they are oddly composed pop fragments. I just don't think they would sound that good live, but I may be wrong. Nevertheless these songs create a great listen.

The band Pollard has assembled for this album is the best incarnation of Guided By Voices. Doug Gillard has breathed new life into Pollard's songwriting machine. Tim Tobias and Nate Farley and Jim MacPherson (Jon McCann and Kevin March would follow) are extremely tight. Just listen to 1994's Crying Your Knife Away, (which was recorded "in their peak" according to the Bee Thousand snobs) and anybody would realise that they are just a sloppy, drunken bar band. I challenge anybody to go to a Guided By Voices show this year and see for yourself how good they are, you will be very pleased.

Although I feel like I must defend Do The Collapse, because it is not as bad as it is made out to be, it only hints at how good this lineup will be soon after (for 2001's Isolation Drills).

By: Sean Wright
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