Friday, October 5, 2012

Class of 2012: Guided By Voices - Class Clown Spots A UFO

Class Clown Spots A UFO is GBV's second album of the year, and a third one is slated for a November release.  Album number two of 2012 is considerably better than its predecessor, Let's Go Eat The Factory.  The songs are more memorable and the band has shaken off some of its rust since reuniting.

Class Clown has its share of great songs.  The instant-classic title track stands out as the album's highlight.  It's perfect pop in a way that only GBV can produce, ending with Robert Pollard singing "I am the one / who is the one / who am the one / who are the one."  The simple and repetitive "Keep It In Motion," in spite of its slightly off-beat drums, also stands out.  "Hang Up And Try Again" may not be instantly catchy, but at some point, unexpectedly, it will pop into your head and you'll find yourself singing "Hang up and try again."  Moreover, "He Rises! Our Union Bellboy" and "No Transmission" make great bookends, opening and closing the album effectively.

Of course, there's the token White Album track, "Blue Babbleships Bay."  More interesting, however, are the songs that bear resemblance to other artists - the slanted and enchanted-ness of "Tyson's High School," the Flaming Lips-y "The Opposite Continues," and the Daniel Johnston-esque "Lost In Spaces."

The quieter moments of Class Clown are also noteworthy.  The acoustic "Chain To The Moon" and "Fly Baby," with their multitracked vocals, don't have that demo feel that a couple songs from the last record did.  And when justice is served and GBV play huge stadiums and arenas, the lighter-friendly "Be Impeccable" will slow things down perfectly.

On Class Clown, GBV has improved upon Let's Go Eat The Factory.  Is it possible that November's The Bears For Lunch will be even better?

Grade: B+  (88.0%)

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