Or were they just lazy, opportunistic hacks?
This past year, while most bands were working diligently to release an mp3 or two, Robert Pollard and Dayton, OH indie legends Guided By Voices calmly released the most music they've ever produced in a single year: Seven seven-inches, a limited edition box set, and three full-length albums. Oh, plus Pollard put out two solo records. I don't think I missed anything, but if I did, leave an angry nerd note in the comments.
Most GBV nerds were already freaking out that the band had gotten back together, with their classic line-up of Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Kevin Fennell, and Greg Demos. This powerful nostalgia blast was a hell of a lot better than trudging through the more forgettable moments in the Voices' discography, which is riddled with compilation appearances, lackluster live records, and albums that veered into unfavorable directions. By the end of 2011, the band was in full-on mid-90s mode. I got so excited that I found myself referring to my girlfriend as my high school sweetheart. Things were getting interesting.
In 2012, while frantically scouring the internet for news about yet another GBV release, I grew pleasantly fatigued. "Holy shit, they put out another single" and "When did they release this Record Store Day box set?" were just a few of the bittersweet moments of my year-long, adrenaline-fueled record hoarding fit. The band had moved from simple non-label self-releases to an all-new Guided By Voices Inc. DIY label. This final step is where all the controversy came in.
"Keep It In Motion," off of the LP Class Clown Spots a UFO.
As the proprietor of his own record label, front man Robert Pollard and his group would essentially become their own editors. More output meant more songs meant more product in what was to become a new, seemingly unedited round of releases.
Some fans rejoiced, others scoffed. Three full lengths and over half a dozen singles later, some began to question the quality of the releases and the motives behind their musical onslaught.
"The Unsinkable Fats Domino," off of the LP Let's Go Eat the Factory.
The most accurate answers surrounding this phenomenon lie within the minds of the true fans. With any group one becomes passionate over, more releases equals a greater connection to the band, good or bad. Guided By Voices is back to their lo-fi, ear candy-a-minute agenda and as I see it, the disappointment of a single chorus pop song followed by an anti-climactic downer track is exactly what the group has striven to represent. In the purest essence of all that is independent music, 2012 was the year that Guided By Voices raised the indie rock bar. Bravo.
Previously - The World Will Not End This Week