Guided by Voices..who'd have thought that they'd have made it to 2002? They're getting ready for their--whoa--20th year reunion, and they show no sign of letting up...or of reaching a creative plateau. Having been dropped from former major label TVT after disappointing sales of their brilliant Isolation Drills album, they returned to their former label, Matador, to release their back to lo-fi form Universal Truths and Cycles.
Of course, everyone knows that GBV are kings of the seven inchers, and with every album they release (or just for the hell of it), the diehard fan can expect to find brilliant diamonds from obscure mines. While there's always been a bit of caution in the tread of the fan, generally these little records fail to disappoint. What this EP is, essentially, is a collection of Universal Truths and Cycles-era B-sides. Like the Hold On Hope single (which served as both a single and a collection of B-sides from the Do The Collapse album), The Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet easily stands on its own and in some places surpasses the album that these songs were rejected from.
It seems that ever since Mag Earwig!, Pollard and crew have had a hard-rock fix. While over the past few years there have been several creative missteps and disappointments, Guided By Voices have turned into a shit-hot rock band whose influences are no longer obvious, a sure sign that they have truly matured. From the first chords of "Visit This Place", you know that you're going to be rocked--and rocked hard--by Dayton's finest rock band (sorry, Morella's Forest).
Every fan finds one or two instant favorites on each record, and in my case, I'm particularly fond of "Visit This Place," the title track, and the beautifully melancholy "Dig Through My Window." Nothing on The Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet really messes with GBV's tried and true lo-fi hard rock sound, and that's a really great thing, too. Pollard could very well be headed into a comfortable renaissance, and if this record is any indication, his next twenty years may prove to be even more interesting and excellent than his first.