Album Review: Guided By Voices - Class Clown Spots A UFO

29 May 2012 | 6:08 pm | Chris Yates

It is a record of unexpected accomplishment. It’s beautifully weird, and weirdly beautiful, as all of Pollard’s best work is.

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The second GBV album featuring the 'classic' Bee Thousand (1994) and Alien Lanes (1995) line-up to be released in less than a year proves Rob Pollard, Tobin Sprout and company are on a roll once again. Rather than just being an accompaniment to Let's Go Eat The Factory, Class Clown... is a record of unexpected accomplishment. It's beautifully weird, and weirdly beautiful, as all of Pollard's best work is.

The first two tracks are the kind of dark and shadowy heavy GBV numbers – ominous and serious with a smattering of absurdist lyricism. Immediately following we get the much welcome sweetness of Tobin Sprout on Forever Until It Breaks, complete with hefty production including sometimes atonal synth strings and maybe even a real cello. The title track is an upbeat band number informed by the memory of the great Elephant 6 bands via horns and a shiny outer layer – it's as classic a pop song as any of the GBV masterpieces of yesteryear. Chain To The Moon is a one-minute shot of classic Pollard, a la Gold Heart Mountain Top and the like.

There's many more magic pop moments, bathed in the otherworldly GBV production magic; Keep It In Motion has Pollard and Sprout doubling each other's vocals on what could be one of their greatest ever collaborations. Sprout indulges his obsession with late-'60s psyche folk on Starfire, and even as we approach the end of the record, moments of genius are all too frequent. Jon The Croc, Lost In Spaces and No Transmission all help to make Class Clown Spots A UFO yet another essential Guided By Voices album.