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Monday, February 07, 2005
  From a Compound Eye

Robert Pollard "U.S. Mustard Company"

Robert Pollard "Dancing Girls and Dancing Men"

Robert Pollard "I'm a Strong Lion"

So after releasing his so-called comedy album, and some four-song soundtrack to something called “ZOOM”, and six or seven other records by random congregations of previous bandmates, Robert Pollard will issue From a Compound Eye, his first official post-Guided by Voices solo album, sometime this fall. Of course, even though it’s six or so months away, it’s already been leaked, and thanks to Crogers, we gots ourselves a copy.

I’ve listened to From a Compound Eye a little over three times now, and I can already tell that it’s much better than Half Smiles of the Decomposed. It’s a long record, especially for Pollard – 26 songs and 70 minutes. A bit lo-fi in spots, maybe a little cleaner and brighter than usual, but for the most part it’s of that middling fidelity that Pollard’s been primarily working within since ’97 or so. You know, moderately slick, with occasional rough patches. The songs aren’t really a grave departure from Guided by Voices, and in fact the whole thing could easily be a GBV record. It has a distinctive sound and feel, though, and a few of the songs would sound out of place on any of their albuma. There are more synths and piano parts than you’d maybe expect, and it doesn’t rock too hard, but I’m still digging it. In a way it’s similar to the middle portion of Half Smiles, but good, instead of turgid and boring.

From a Compound Eye is far from a reinvention of Pollard and his aesthetic. It does break solidly enough from GBV convention to stand distinctively separate from that catalogue, though. Based on this record, Guided by Voices’ break-up might mean something more than just the retiring of a name; it could signal a slight but noticeable shift in Pollard’s work. At any rate, From a Compound Eye is a good first step for the newly single Pollard, and will be worth buying, whenever it can be bought.

Oh yeah, these song titles might not be accurate; they come from Coke Machine Glow's review of the album.
 
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