Whichever way you choose to slice it, releasing 100 albums is a feat of mammoth proportions, and that’s what Robert Pollard, the main creative force behind indie band Guided By Voices, will accomplish on Friday. That stated, it’s unfortunate that “August By Cake,” that upcoming double-LP (out on GBV Inc Records), isn’t better than a standard quality release.
Pollard deserves a heap of credit for his prolific output. All it takes is a couple listens to his mid-1990s work with Guided By Voices — namely “Bee Thousand” and “Alien Lanes” — to recognize him as a genuine talent capable of genius work. “August By Cake,” however, does not fall into that category.
If lo-fi indie rock had a Mount Rushmore, Pollard’s face would probably be on it. The micro-song home recordings assembled for the above-mentioned “Bee Thousand” album made for one of the biggest surprise hits of 1994, eventually helping the band to land a spot on Matador Records.
And in terms of quantity at least, Pollard’s output really hasn’t waned over the years.
So, what’s good about this latest collection, “August By Cake,” in particular? Well, like most Guided By Voices releases, there are at least a few songs to really latch onto. In this writer’s case, those tracks are “5° On The Inside,” “Goodbye Note” and “Overloaded.”
But for the better part, the songs feel of the run-of-the-mill variety — like an assortment of sounds you’ve heard from Pollard and company all too many times before. It’s almost certainly not going to change your life.
Instead, “August By Cake” accomplishes the peculiar feat of covering a good bit of ground in rock (it’s got 32 songs, for goodness’ sake) without leaving the listener with any of the satisfaction that comes from an album of full-bodied dynamic range.
Verdict: 3 out of 5