I’m going to admit something here.
I’ve probably heard this album a handful of times,
in the past ten years.
That's not because I don’t like the album or enjoy it.
I played the hell out of it after it was released.
The thing is, Bob has released so much since then and
it’s not because I can’t keep up with his releases.
Because I do and I listen to it all.
But in no way do I want Bob to slow down making records.
If it were any other band,
going back and listening to their best stuff wouldn’t be difficult at all.
Because the number of great albums other bands and performers
release are a lot fewer and can usually be heard in about an hour.
Going back and listening to “Universal Truths and Cycles” takes me back
to when King Shit and I brought our video cameras into the bands
in-store performance at Amoeba Records in Hollywood.
We did a 2-camera shoot, me downstairs near the front of the stage,
and King Shit in the balcony near the DVD section.
In hindsight it might have been better to have King Shit on the floor,
being as he is much taller than me.
The band was celebrating the release of “Universal Truths and Cycles,”
by performing eleven songs from the album and closing with “Game of Pricks.”
I got my “Universal Truths and Cycles” LP signed by the whole band.
Even though drummer Kevin March joined after the record was recorded,
I was very happy to get his autograph which included him drawing a drum set.
Something that has nothing to do with GBV:
My daughter who was about 13 and wasn’t much of a GBV fan,
was walking around looking at CDs and records.
She told me that she was talking to Drew Barrymore in the cd section.
I was like,
yeah right, I’m sure it was just someone who looked like her.
She grabbed my hand and dragged me to where she apparently saw her.
My daughter said, “Drew, I’d like you to meet my dad, Matt.”
Drew said, “Hi Dad Matt.”
Oh my God!
I’ve seen her in movies and thought she was alright.
But she looks so hot in real life, She had like a glow about her.
I'm not freakin kidding.
Anyway back to GBV,
they put on a great performance that day and
I’m sure they got some new fans that day.
“Universal Truths and Cycles” is the band’s first album upon returning to
Matador Records, after a two record contract with TVT Records.
As far as TVT goes,
The plan was the label would break GBV into the mainstream.
Sure I was all for it at the time.
But in hindsight, I’m glad it didn’t happen,
Massive success has ruined pretty much every band that achieved it.
And here we are 15 years later,
Bob has done it on his terms and still brings out amazing stuff to this day,
and as much as he wants with his own record company.
Being back at Matador brought back some of the problems,
like the bands drinking and the frequency of record releases.
The band would end up recording three albums for the label.
This is also the debut of Todd Tobias as the bands producer;
dramatically changing the polished sound of the prior two albums
“Do the Collapse” and “Isolation Drills.”
Todd’s style was noisier, with ambient and not so ambient noises
in the background, which was not quite as lo-fi as the bands earlier releases,
but gave the band a rawer sound then the last two polished records.
Originally planned to be a regular twelve song album,
Bob decided to record a bunch of shorter songs and sandwich them
in between the longer songs,
much like he did with “Mag Earwhig!”.
Some fans didn’t like this move and thought it cluttered the album,
but I quite enjoyed it.
It’s like a mix of older GBV along with some newer material.
Though the albums is less polished than the two prior,
there are still elements from those albums that remain.
Songs like, “Back to the Lake,” “Pretty Bombs” and “Everywhere With Helicopter”
with their Pop/Rock goodness would fit quite comfortably on both albums.
“Christian Animation Torch Carriers,” “Storm Vibrations,” “Car Language”
and “Eureka Signs” are more in line to the longer, more Proggy moments
of “Isolation Drills.”
“Wire Greyhounds” is one of those great Pollard Pop/Rock songs that times in
at little more than 30 seconds, that in the future Bob would use to open many
of his releases.
Many songwriters would let it go on for at least three minutes, But not Bob.
he has no shortage of great tunes in his head.
Part of the charm of this album is the shorter songs,
which have been missing from “Do the Collapse” and “Isolation Drills.”
The additions of “Factory Of Raw Essentials”, “Love 1”, “Wire Greyhounds”, “Zap”,
“The Weeping Bogeyman” and “The Ids Are Alright”,
give “Universal Truths and Cycles” its old Guided By Voices feeling.
I almost see “Universal Truths and Cycles” as a compromise between the old GBV
and “Do the Collapse” and “Isolation Drills.”
If there is one thing I’ve learned from doing this review is,
I have to go back to the older releases more often,
which is the great thing about doing these album reviews;
it forces me to.