I was very surprised when the release of “Motivational Jumpsuit”,
the album prior to “Cool Planet” was announced.
Judging from what Robert Pollard said in an interview in Magnet shortly after the release
of “English Little League”, the fourth album from the reunited “Classic GBV,” line up,
it was all over.
“Honey Locust Honky Tonk is basically the songs I wrote for the next Guided By Voices album,
but I’m not sure there’s going to be a next Guided By Voices album.
I’m not gonna say for sure, but it’s already got a little bit stagnant.
To me, it’s kind of run its course”.
I can see why he would say that.
On the first album “Let's Go Eat The Factory” there was that spark
that made basically anything the band recorded, great.
that lasted till the next album, “Class Clown Spots A UFO”.
But it seems that by their third album, “The Bears For Lunch”
the band had lost that excitement that came with the reunion.
I’m not saying it’s a bad album, I don’t believe Bob’s made a bad album.
But when I listen to it, it seems Bob and the band would rather be somewhere else.
So in the Magnet interview,
when Bob sounded like he was ready to “pack it up”
it made sense being that “English Little League”, the next album,
was a more “up” than “The Bears For Lunch”.
And you always want to leave on a high note.
Then out of nowhere came “Motivational Jumpsuit”,
Not only the best of the reunion albums, but the most GBV-like.
The cover artwork has the cover of the “Tiger Bomb” ep from 1995 on it.
Can’t get more Classic than that.
Around this time, news was GBV drummer, Kevin Fennell put his
personalized drum set which he recorded all the GBV stuff with,
Which resulted in his firing.
This had to be truly the end of the reunion.
Then suddenly a video clip appears,
claiming to be from a session for a new GBV reunion album.
It was of Kevin March dropping a skull bowling ball on an acoustic guitar,
If I made a wish list of drummers Bob has played with
to replace Kevin Fennel,
Kevin March would top the list.
As a matter of fact,
I believe Kevin March is just the spark that not only the band needed,
but Bob needed.
A great drummer can make a band great,
a not so great drummer, can make a band not so great.
“Cool Planet’s” first song “Authoritarian Zoo”,
starts off with bob seemingly singing off key,
then at the forty-second mark, the song takes off.
Then at the one minute mark, it climbs even higher.
Thanks to Kevin March’s great drumming.
On “Fast Crawl” listen to Greg Demos bass playing,
playing with Kevin March makes him play better.
The Bowling Ball Drop was put at the end of this song.
I always enjoy Tobin Sprout songs,
on “Cool Planet” he turns in some of his best.
“Psychotic Crush” is great Psych Pop that I just wish was longer.
The brilliant “All American Boy” is Tobin at his greatest.
It’s one of those songs that every songwriter wishes they could write.
Bob has no shortage of great songs on “Cool Planet”.
most of them are under two minutes.
Like, “Pan Swimmer”, “Table At Fool’s Tooth”, “Hat of Flames”
and the title song that closes the album.
In the perfect world, “Bad Love is Easy to Do” and
“Males of Wormwood Mars” would be in constant
“The Bone Church” is a heavy rocker with a touch of psych.
“Narrated By Paul” is one of those short piano ballads
by Tobin that just knock me out.
I really have a hard time deciding which album between
“Motivational Jumpsuit’ and “Cool Planet” is my favorite.
Both strong albums, but Tobin’s songs on “Cool Planet”
are stronger than those on “Motivational Jumpsuit”.
“Cool Planet” was a great album to finish the reunion.
Most bands that reunite, even some of my favorites,
end up being a huge disappointment.
This is perhaps the one time that didn’t happen.
When the line-up split after such a brilliant album as
“Under the Bushes Under the Stars” it always seemed
that they still had some unfinished business.
It was always,
“If they only stayed together, just think what they could have done.”
I think with six albums, twenty-three singles, an ep and live tours,
they have gone over and above any expectations.
Thank you very much to Bob and the “Classic line-up”,
it’s been a great Ride!