I am not a fan of Guided by Voices because of their now mythical, rough-cut, non-sensical, lo-fi rock heroics: i.e. recording their music partly by necessity, partly for its angsty realism so it sounds like the underneath of an angry buzzsaw-table drowned among the weeds of a twisted British folk lyric. Instead Im a fan of the deeply morbid three-and-a-half-minute-long pop anthems that have surfaced on GBVs records since the bands 1994 release, Bee Thousand (on longtime home Matador). Basically, Ill take well-crafted pop brilliance over sonic devolution-revolution anytime.
That said, Do the Collapse features some of the best tunes Bob Pollard the drunken, Princelike figure who commands 95 percent of GBVs songwriting credits has churned out, though the cynic in me notices that this breakthrough comes on an album produced by the Cars Rick Ocasek and released on the un-Matador-like label TVT. But when a sell-out sounds this good, only the most spoiled indie-rocker could whine. More to the point, when it means that GBV finally jettisons the lions share of its rock-retro fetishes from wanna-be Beatles b-sides to REM necrophilia then theres hope that musical transcendence will win the day.
And it does. The singles are plentiful and the lyrics on such songs as "Hold On Hope" ("Well thats the chance we take/ to be always working/ reaching out for/ the hand that we cant see/ everybodys got a hold on hope/ its the last thing thats holding me") are simply beautiful. This may be GBVs version of a throwaway album all more or less straightforward and sonically pleasing but so what. The Cars never sounded this good.