Guided By Robert Pollard

Guided By Voices
Styles We Paid For


by Propellerless

No one could have predicted anything like the Covid-19 Pandemic
and how it would affect the music industry.

Many dealt with it by performing acoustically on Zoom.
And others do vlogs on YouTube to keep themselves out there,
waiting to be able to go back on the road.

Bob and the band turned a bad situation into perhaps
the most exciting time to be a GBV fan.

Sure, I’d love to go see the band live,
but Guided By Voices did perform a no audience live show,
with the whole band together in person.
Fully electric on a sound stage on-line.

I really enjoyed the show.
I’ve seen GBV many times throughout the years.
But this show reminded me of the German music show,
The Beat Club which featured bands performing on a sound stage
with no audience.

The camera work was great,
Sometimes, camera men can really screw things up,
but this was filmed perfectly.

My hope is that Bob releases that live show on DVD and Blu-ray,
I’ll take both,
Please take my money!

Don’t forget the Hot Freaks weekly email subscription service.
Which I hope doesn’t end with the pandemic.

Every Tuesday I get demo albums, live concerts, rarities, and sneak peaks
of new recordings in my email.
Today I received 15 of Bob’s boombox demos for “Motivational Jumpsuit.”
It’s like Guided By Voices Christmas every Tuesday!

I think it was genius of Bob to turn the whole situation
into something that would keep the fans happy.
As a fan since 1995, I sure am.
We also got an excellent album, “Mirrored Aztec” released
during the pandemic, but recorded before.
Another Cash Rivers and the Sinners album, “Bad Side Of The Coin”
and the “Heaven Beats Iowa ep” by Cub Scout Bowling Pins,
which, in both cases is the current GBV line-up.

“Styles We Paid For” was to be called “Before Computers”
and the plan was to record it using only analog recording equipment.
But that all changed with the pandemic.

Instead, the album was recorded in the band’s members
five home states using digital recording.

My first impression by just looking at the album cover
led me to believe it would be a “Glam” sounding album.

But the album, at least half of it,
appears to have a darkness hanging over it,
and considering the circumstances, it’s understandable.

If that wasn’t the case and the whole album
was an upbeat power pop album,
I would be even more surprised.
And maybe disappointed.

Hot Freaks subscribers on week 36 were treated with
“Before Computers” a 15 Boombox demo album,
which Bob recorded in February 2020,
for what would become “Styles We Paid For.”

So being the songs were written before the pandemic,
there is really no way the songs could be about it.
But it is possible it set the tone for the recording of the album.
 “Megaphone Riley” is a great album opener,
It starts out with just Doug on guitar and Bob,
then it blooms into a powerful chorus, then ends.
I only wish it was longer.

“They Don’t Play Drums Anymore” with its spoken word verses
and that familiar Guided By Voices rhythm guitar on the down stroke.
Sounds like Classic GBV to me.
Bob released a demo version on the sixteenth issue
of “Eat” it’s amazing what the band did with it.

Then we get to “Slaughterhouse” 30 seconds under
the five-minute mark, is what I’ve been waiting for.
A song that builds, with different parts.

These types of songs that are found on the current
line-ups albums usually end up being my favorite songs.
Kind of Post-Punk-Prog-Psych.

The clouds seem to part with “Endless Seafood” which is
a great hook laden gem.
Spoiler alert, 
the song goes into a Prog-Psych thing towards the end.
Love when they do that.

By this point I was completely sucked into this album.

“Mr. Child” has single written all over it.
It’s got to become a regular live song.
GBV pop/rock at its best!
“Stops” is what I call a “grower”,
like “Slaughterhouse” once you “get” it,
it becomes a favorite.
“The Official Iron Man Rally Song” had the same effect on me.

“War Of The Devils” is a highlight from the album.
I know some fans don’t care for songs like this
with the multipart songs.

Songs like this are the meat of the album.

I really like when Bob and the band experiment,
it shows that the band is growing,
while not betraying the Pop-Punk-Psych-Prog ethos.
I’d add a fifth to that “Post Punk.”

Another Spoiler Alert,
I just love how the song kinda falls apart at the end.

“Electronic Windows To Nowhere” comes on like a
Sunny Psych-Pop gem from the 60’s or even the 80’s.
it would make a cool single,
if it wasn’t so short.

Another possible single, “Never Abandon Ship”,
has a weird twisting sound in the production,
like something Todd Tobias did in his earlier productions
with GBV and Bob.
Great song, the hits just keep on coming.

Songs like “Roll Me Into Heaven” really add a lot
of depth into the current line-up’s albums.
Even though the song is only two minutes and 16 seconds,
there is so much to it that it seems longer.
How do they do that?

“In Calculus Stratagem” is a dreamy psych gem.
With all of the great songs on this album,
this one shouldn’t be overlooked.
But it could really be another minute longer.
Loves the guitars!

The album goes from one great song to another,
on “Crash At Lake Placebo” Bob sings the first verse
in a lower register.
After an instrumental break, by this great line-up,
we get the next verse with a more rocking’ Bob singing higher.

The Who-like “Liquid Kid” Is basically a rock opera
clocking in at three and a half minutes.
Starts out slow but builds into a classic.

“Time Without Looking” another dreamy psych song,
In which Bob name checks Neil Youngs “After the Gold Rush”
and 80’s Paisley Underground band, The Rain Parade.

“When Growing Was Simple” is another song first heard
in a very raw demo form on Eat 16 - Soundtrack From Planet Cake.
The album version is still pretty raw and basic.

With lyrics like,
“Don’t drink and drive, stay at home and eat.”
I immediately thought it was referring to the pandemic,
but remembering the songs were written beforehand.
I really don’t like to say,
when it comes to this line-up’s album releases,
I like this one more than that one or
what order I would place them.

Because it always changes.
Each one of the albums, though different from each other,
has something that makes it stand on its own.

“Styles We Paid For” is another excellent album
from Bob and the gang.
One great song after another.
They are riding a wave of excellent albums,
(aren’t they always)
that no one could match.