Album Review: Guided By Voices – The Bears for Lunch
By Jamie Wolfert
Three albums in 2012 from Guided By Voices....three rather good, consistent, full-length albums in one calendar year. Wow. It's sort of hard to know what to write about them anymore, but I think it's safe to say that the men of GBV and their fearless leader, the never-not-writing-songs Capt. Pollard, have found their post-reunion groove. The Bears for Lunch is the latest release, following June's Class Clown Spots A UFO and January's Let's Go Eat The Factory, and it's definitely another in the “Hey, here's a bunch more songs we wrote!” vein, which isn't a bad thing.
The Bears for Lunch covers all of GBV's bases in the first three tracks, from mid-fi Pollard rockers like opening track “King Arthur The Red”, to Tobin Sprout-penned lullabies like second track “The Corners are Glowing”, to drunken Uncle Bob lo-fi gems like the third track, “Have A Jug”. I kind of wish they had kept that 3-song cycle going for the duration of the record - regardless, The Bears for Lunch won't let an old fan down. As usual, there are plenty of aviation-themed tunes, like Sprout's sweet, Beatles-ey “Waving At Airplanes”, and Pollard's twisted chug-a-long love song “She Lives In An Airport”. Brief lo-fi oddities like “The Military School Dance Dismissal” and “Tree Fly Jet” vary in quality from decent to memorable, but I'd be hard pressed to pick out a true clunker from The Bears for Lunch.
“Good” Guided By Voices records are the ones where the hits outnumber the misses, or where you can at least break even, and the albums of the GBV 2012 Trilogy all handily qualify as “good” in my book. The hits don't hit quite as hard as some of the early classics, but on the other hand, there are very few misses. If I had to find something to complain about in all of this, it would be that the reunited GBV's quality and consistency has become entirely predictable. Let's see how long they can keep it up!