Everybody's got a little something to say about Robert Pollard these days. Drunk, father, master singer-vocalist. Many years ago, long before the advent of the Internet a close friend remarked how Pollard could basically do no wrong as he has the gift of having the voice of a bell. True enough. Once again, it's all here on display in Blues and Boogie Shoes if there remained any shred of reasonable doubt. Is the man a genius? Hell no. But the quality of the songs and his music biz longevity suggest that he may be damn close.
Do these songs suggest a new maturity or any of that bullshit many critics had hoped from dear old Bob for so many years? Who knows, and with songs this good, who really cares? These are fast-driving songs to drive fast to, "Heaven's Gate" and "Lost Upon Us," and contemplative strummers like "Beauty of the Draft" and the instrumental "The Camouflaged Friend." This from "Death of The Party," the lead single: "She used to be an American airline / Through hotels / parallels / Of the far out moonÃ¢â¬Â¦" Tasteful as ever in the lyrical department, and the dueling guitars of Tommy Keene and Pollard is a welcome, happy event in the annals of indie/pop rock.
For those previously unfamiliar with the work of great 1980's rocker Keene, you're in for a most pleasant surprise. His ear for melody certainly parallels our fair Pollard. On this offering, "You Must Engage" is as-good-as-it-gets wonderful. So is the last song, "A Blue Shadow." These are big riff feel-good rockers, as solid as anything in the Guided By Voices catalog save maybe Bee Thousand end-to-end. Unlike Pollard's earlier attempt at collaboration with a man of much melody, Mac from Superchunk as the late 90's Go Back Snowball, almost all twelve of these songs work. They make you want to smile, say something nice to your partner, take a walk down your street in hopes of seeing your world anew. Robert Pollard's world is a perfect view, and you're invited to come along too. Please do.
For further listening check out Tommy Keene's Songs from the Film if you can lay hands on a copy too. The album is further evidence that Pollard knows how to pick his collaborators, for sure.
8.5 / 10
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