A glossier GBV

<!– Link: Guided By Voices

When Guided by Voices scored an underground hit with 1994’s Bee Thousand, the band seemed destined to be a blip on the radar.

First off, critics were too quick to dub the Ohio band heir apparents to a “movement” — in this case, lo-fi — that wasn’t really much of a movement. Second, band leader Robert Pollard had bigger things in mind.

By 1996, Guided by Voices had nearly abandoned the demo-tape quality of its 1994 watershed. Under the Bushes, Under the Stars was even helmed by Kim Deal of the Breeders.

Had Pollard and Co. recorded more short epics on the scale of Bee Thousand, it would have been fine. Should Pollard and crew continue to record fully polished, professional opuses such as the band’s latest, Do the Collapse, that would be fine as well.

Just hope the band doesn’t go back to its middle ground, where big songs were squashed into lo-fi conventions.

Do the Collapse fully realizes the potential Guided by Voices hinted at with Bee Thousand. Produced by the Cars’ Ric Ocasek, Do the Collapse shows Guided by Voices as the big rock band they always are. Pollard’s voice shines, and the guitars blister in full stereo glory.

If anything, the sheen of Ocasek’s production suits Pollard’s bigger songs better. There’s only so much of a three-minute pop ditty that a lo-fi recording can support. After a while, something gets lost in the delivery.

Hence, the band’s immediate follow-ups to Bee Thousand — 1995’s Alien Lanes and 1996’s Under the Bushes — were good but not great.

Do the Collapse can be safely considered great.