Robert Pollard CDs reviewed by Amanda Nichols

Music Reviews
Robert Pollard CDs reviewed by Amanda Nichols
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Nov 7, 2007, 05:59

Robert Pollard - Coast to Coast Carpet of Love
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ROBERT POLLARD Coast to Coast Carpet of Love CD ROBERT POLLARD Standard Gargoyle Decisions CD

It's not surprising that Robert Pollard cranked out two records over the course of one day. He is, after all, a songwriter who's been able to base a large amount of his longevity on the sheer volume of tunes he's created both with and without Guided By Voices. That said, to write two album's worth of material is one thing but to record and produce it in that timeframe deserves a frigging medal. Both records are presented to the reviewer together, but as they are separate records, what follows is a review for each record individually.  Much like a set of twins, it just wouldn't be very fair to compare the two to each other or assume you've met them both. Here they are, then, for your enjoyment: The Pollard Twins.

Coast to Coast Carpet of Love

This is the more “acoustic” Pollard release. “Our Gaze” and “I Clap for Strangers” have great drones and melodies that will stick in your brain for days. There's a crispness to the production that really helps all of the songs stand on their own. Perhaps it's blasphemy to say that the production on a lo-fi star's record is great, but there it is. There's only so much a 4-track can do, people. Many of the tracks begin with Pollard and an acoustic guitar, and builds quietly, reminiscent of Robyn Hitchock in many ways, like on “When We Were Slaves.” The whole record is quirky, dreamy, very hummable, and has the feel of the tail end of a particularly pleasant acid trip you're reliving from many years ago.  Maybe because of the record's more acoustic inclinations, it feels very naive and pure, quite childlike. There's a great vibrancy and energy on Coast to Coast… that Pollard can occasionally coax from the right people.  Without reservation, this is an excellent, excellent record. Well done.

Standard Gargoyle Decisions

Maybe the more “Guided by Voices”-styled record of the “twins,” featuring the more familiar straight-ahead instrumentation and obtuse lyrics. This works all right until about “Lay Me Down,” which seems to drag a bit. Pollard goes from “oh hell no, you think I'm crazy” on “Pill Gone Girl” to what sounds like stumbling drunk, leaning on the reel-to-reel on “Butcher Man.” Perhaps this is on purpose? It recovers as the disc goes on, but still keeps a drowsy, meandering feel for the rest of it. I don't know if the two records were recorded simultaneously or cut from one really long session, but if I had to guess, Standard Gargoyle Decisions was the latter part of the day in the studio.  There's a certain amount of late night drunkenness to it, especially as it wears on. Not really a surprise. After a while, the record started giving me flashbacks to seeing Guided By Voices and Cheap Trick, and that I'm fairly sure they're still on stage. They just…drank. A lot. And it kind of sounded like the last half of this record. [Merge]

-Amanda Nichols

Buy them both now at AMAZON

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