Trying to review the new Robert Pollard album, Of Course You Are, out now on Fire Records, is at once an impossible task and a futile one: fans of this guy's stuff will want to hear it no matter what I write and non-fans cannot really be persuaded by one review of one release out of hundreds. Pollard has long since proven himself perhaps the most prolific artist in rock. Given that, it's also remarkable that quality control has been kept pretty high for a long time.
On Of Course You Are Pollard has opted for more direct song-writing than casual fans might remember in the past. Back then it seemed as if those short Guided by Voices songs were being tossed off like pieces of paper in the wind. Of late, with Boston Spaceships and now on his solo albums, Pollard is writing slightly longer cuts (but still pretty concise ones) that are more traditional in structure and execution. That the results are still gloriously rich in blasts of energy -- this album's lead single "I Can Illustrate", for example -- is something to be appreciated.
Elsewhere, on the rather gentle "Come and Listen", the strings take the place of guitars and the tune is still all coiled energy waiting to be unleashed; Pollard could never write "Eleanor Rigby" but he can sure as heck amp up a poor man's version of it, you know? If "Collision Daycare" is jittery power-pop of the sort that Pollard perfected early on, back when he sounded a tiny bit like Mitch Easter's Let's Active in places, then "That's The Way You Gave It To Me" is this release's obligatory nod in the direction of the Sixties Beat Groups, post-Beatles wannabes struming with hearts-on-sleeves. "Long Live Instant Pandemonium" is The Who (again), while "Little Pigs" is a rummage through R.E.M.'s back pages. The album closes on the restrained explorations of the title cut, Pollard sounding more in command than he has since the first few Boston Spaceships releases.
Of Course You Are by Robert Pollard is another winner from a guy who's got a streak like Babe Ruth. Will it light the world on fire? Nope. Will it rock your socks? Oh yeah. Oh yeah.