I have to apologize to Robert Pollard.
Before the release of “Robert Pollard Is Off To Business”,
it appeared that perhaps Bob was approaching a point of his career
that most, if not all performers, find themselves in.
Where perhaps the best days may be behind them and each release
would be just to keep your name out there.
McCartney, etc. etc…
Guided By Voices ended in 2004 and the Fading Captain Series,
which was Pollard’s outpost for his side projects, ended in 2007.
Pollard’s solo albums were being released by Merge Records
and Ipecac, which released Circus Devils 2007 album “Sgt. Disco”
and very soon after, dropped the band.
It kinda looked like the end.
So why am I apologizing?
I forgot the GBV Mantra,
“In Bob We Trust.”
Little did I know it was a new beginning.
Now in hindsight, with the formation of “GBV Inc.”;
and it’s first album release, “Robert Pollard Is Off To Business”,
2008 was a re-start or as they say, a “Re-boot”
of Robert Pollard's career.
The title “Robert Pollard Is Off To Business” is very appropriate,
Pollard with multi-instrumentalist Todd Tobias producing and performing all the music,
produced an album which is, dare I say,
the most “Mainstream” sounding record, Bob has ever made.
When I say “Mainstream” I don’t mean whatever is passing as it today,
but probably more 70’s mainstream.
It is almost like a 70’s Singer/Songwriter album,
not quite Carole King or James Taylor,
but maybe closer to Hunky Dory.
With ten songs in thirty-five minutes and most of the songs
clocking in at three and a half minutes; and one at almost
five and a half,
you know this isn’t your typical GBV release.
Personally I really enjoyed this album,
the song lengths give the songs a chance to grow.
Sure, with the old GBV stuff like “Alien Lanes”,
one of my favorite GBV albums (I loved the short songs),...
but its nice to see Pollard widen his songwriting scope.
Todd Tobias’ production on this album is his best at this point.
There were sounds and noises that were on his earlier productions
with GBV and Pollard that at times bothered me, but it’s funny,
those same things work perfectly with Circus Devils,
of which I’m a huge fan.
But some of these production techniques work better
within the confines of Circus Devils recordings.
“Robert Pollard Is Off To Business” has a smoother sound which still rocks,
but fear not, Bob has not betrayed what he calls the 4 “P’s” Pop, Progressive,
Psychedelia and Punk.
with “Robert Pollard Is Off To Business” he expands on them.
The upbeat “The Original Heart” starts the album,
sort of a shuffle which could have been a single in the early 70’s.
“The Blondes” has a dreamy Neil Young acoustic feel.
I can imagine driving through a desert listening to this.
“1 Years Old” is the shortest song at under two minutes,
Great Power/Pop that could be a GBV number.
“Gratification To Concrete” is one of the songs to hit me
before the others, very cool.
“No One But I” is brilliant,
it’s songs like this that really benefit from the long length
that this album allows.
“Weatherman And Skin Goddess” is a pop/rock gem;
more evidence of Pollard’s ever-growing song writing genius,
which never ceases to amaze me.
This was released as an ep, the first release from GBV Inc.
“Robert Pollard Is Off To Business” was release Number 2.
The brilliant “Wealth and Hell-Being” is a great album closer,
that after a few listens like the rest of this album,
it grows on you enough to start the album over again.
After this album Bob will, of course, continue working with
Todd Tobias on his solo albums and Circus Devils,
plus form Boston Spaceships and
reunite with the classic GBV line-up,
release a multitude of side projects, which would stand up to
his greatest work.
Plus the reformation of Guided By Voices with Doug Gillard,
bringing Bob full circle.
Making the ten year span between 2008 and 2018,
Bob’s most productive decade where he grew as a songwriter
and a recording artist.
Todd Tobias, who at this writing is no longer working with Bob,
is the unsung hero of this period and “Robert Pollard Is Off To Business”,
is one of their many great collaborations.
Don’t go into this album expecting it to be a Guided By Voices album, because it’s not.
If you listen to it for its own merit,
You will see it for its own brilliance.