Guided By Voices - Space Gun (Cover Artwork)

Guided By Voices

Space Gun (2018)

Guided By Voices, Inc

I must be missing something. Having visited Guided By Voices hometown of Dayton, Ohio, many dozens of times over the years, I fail to see the source of the inspiration behind such prolific creativity. Are these secretly songs about dead malls, drive thru liquor stores, and Costco-sized porn shops?

On GBV’s first album of 2018, Space Gun, the mundaneness of the Miami Valley once again fails to translate onto the wax. Pollard and Co, now on their 184th full length, may not be breaking any new ground. But a band as seasoned as these guys need not constantly overreach for sparks. The natural flow of a GBV album, while certainly done before, still manages to stand at least amongst, if not above, the most unique and pleasing sounding records of the day.

On tracks such as “See My Field,” “Liar’s Box,” and “Blink Blank,” those gorgeous fuzz boxes and heavy plate reverbs, that just scream ‘93 FM radio’ to a guy like me, are GBV in their finest natural state.

While there really is no need to ever stray from this one formula, this is GBV we’re talking about. So interspersed here are shorter numbers like “Colonel Paper,” “King Flute,” and “Daily Get Ups,” that tone things down for around two minutes apiece. In these wonderfully narrated vignettes, the band nixes the sonic layering in favor of deconstructed simple melody.

The first of two real standout tracks here for me are “Sport Component National” which appears 2/3 into the album. The song plays out inventively, following a pattern not unlike an actual sports event. We’re given a hook as if it were chanted by the crowd, an interrupting echoed announcer, the eventual victory dance. Overall, an unexpected twist of a track. The other standout is “I Love Kangaroos.” This one reminds us how great GBV can be at playing the dance-pop du jour band. Now keep in mind, the lyrics here are downright silly. But the head bopping delivery is charming enough; there’s no shame in finding yourself declaring your own marsupial affection.

I think that history will be very good to Space Gun. While not for the GBV uninitiated, this one seems poised to fall into their top ten. No small feat indeed. Especially seeing how it’s only March, and there could likely be another GBV album, or two, still to come before we start our Christmas shopping.