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Album Review: Guided by Voices - "Let's Go Eat the Factory"

With no softening around the edges, the 21-song Let’s Go Eat the Factory represents the true essence of Guided by Voices.

Guided by Voices
Let's Go Eat the Factory
GBV Inc.

When Guided by Voices disbanded in 2004, frontman/guitarist/principal songwriter Robert Pollard essentially left little to no hope that the lo-fi pioneers would ever record or play live again. Following the release of Half-Smiles of the Decomposed that year, Pollard stated, “This feels like the last album for Guided by Voices. I’ve always said that when I make a record that I’m totally satisfied with as befitting a final album, then that will be it. And this is it.”

Fast-forward eight years, and here we are with a new Guided by Voices record. And what a record it is. With no softening around the edges, the 21-song Let’s Go Eat the Factory represents the true essence of Guided by Voices: prog/punk/psych rock that often sounds absolutely spontaneous and chaotic, but still comes off as completely put together—and done so in a beautiful way that very few bands have been able to pull off. Guided by Voices makes no attempt to mask its influences—from early Who to Joy Division and Peter Murphy—but continues to find a way to sound completely different from any band out there.

Though GBV has seen a number of lineup changes over the years, Let’s Go Eat the Factory is the first in 15 years to feature the classic lineup of Pollard, Tobin Sprout (guitar), Mitch Mitchell (guitar), Greg Demos (bass), and Kevin Fennell (drums)—and it was recorded in their living rooms, basements, and garages. “Laundry and Lasers” is a tractor beam with its dirty guitars erupting into nasty Brit rock. “Doughnut for a Snowman,” the third track and first single, sounds like a young David Bowie swooning over a strange country-pop song at a carnival concert—and it’s done so nicely. Meanwhile, the rawness and desperation achieved in only 43 seconds on the superb acoustic ballad “The Room Taking Shape” takes the album in yet another of its dozen directions, which is par for the Guided by Voices course.

There’s no telling how long this incarnation of the band will last, but it’s a refreshing treat for long-time fans that this reunion stays true to the approach that won them their passionately loyal following. —Rich Osweiler

Must-hear track: "Doughnut for a Snowman"