Down by the Racetrackby Guided by Voices
Despite the fact that they released three fully realized albums and a handful of singles in 2012, Ohio's chronic song sculptors Guided by Voices promptly began 2013 with Down by the Racetrack, an EP's worth of new material to lead into another year of constant output. While the six bite-sized songs here barely culminate in more than nine minutes of music, they still manage to cover a lot of ground. The band looks back to its lowest lo-fi days on "It Travels Faster Through Thin Hair" and "Standing in a Puddle of Flesh," both of which sound recorded with hand-held cassette players but capture the blown-out pop spirit of the earliest incarnations of the band. Songwriter Tobin Sprout is again responsible for the most melodic and earnest numbers, with the 44-seconds-long "Amanda Gray" compacting an album's worth of baroque pop into a concentrated space that's gone almost before it begins. The Robert Pollard-penned "Pictures of the Man" travels the progressive rock territory of some of the more aggressive 2012 GBV material, as well as the general feel of Pollard's epic Boston Spaceships project. Heavy competing fuzz guitar lines, ominous backing vocals, and crispy handclaps make up the most produced song on Down by the Racetrack, and the variants between studio recordings and home-recorded songs are all part of the jarring magic that the group has been perfecting for decades. Even without breaking the ten-minute mark, this EP encapsulates the shakily beautiful Guided by Voices experience and sets the stage for another year of prolific and weird pop from these masters of the craft.
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- Guided By Voices
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