Top positive review
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& a few months later--Another GBV album! Yes!
on November 13, 2012
If anyone who isn't by now cool enough to have heard or heard of GBV (oh, yeah, btw, even the Obama Administration acknowledges their greatness, as Jay Carney so hippishly leaked-out!) needs to be provided with some kind of smoothly accessible access-point to join in on the debate on why this band is the best, most versatile rock band on the planet, just direct them to tracks 4 ("Hangover Child") and 14 ("Waking Up the Stars") on their appropriately consistent 3rd album of 2012 "The Bears For Lunch". One is boisterous, chant-along, defiant, hard-charging rock led by drummer Kevin Fennell's unforgettable frontbeat and ringleader Robert Pollard's resolve to 'not back down'. The other is guitarist/co-songwriter Tobin Sprout's latest quest for the perfect immaculate lost folk-tinged pop-song, pealed away of pretentiousness and precociousness: the sort of song Paul Simon or The Shins only wish they could write. But whereas to find these two seemingly opposite (but perfect) tracks on the same album would be a near miracle for any other artist, for GBV its just another testament to an ongoing, ever expanding love affair with their own musical collaboration. Yet, I as all GBV fans know that to find their true genius, sometimes you have to wade through the occasional muck (muck as in Pollard, a pint of Cuervo, an out-of-tune guitar and five minutes with one take to knock-off a song muck), muck that sometimes might seem too hodge-podge, too throwaway, too experimental, but muck that also sometimes may embrace you in the end. Although it has less muck than their last album ("Class Clown Spots a UFO", which came out as far back as 4 months ago (!)), "Bears For Lunch", as the diehards will tell you, still has tracks that often heal and occasionally headache, but it never fails (as everything this line-up has ever done) to be interesting and worthy of the respect to listen all-the-way-through in order at least once, before skimming for favorites. Here's a track-to-track take (rated 1 to 5):
1. King Arthur the Red (4/5) Great balls-out rock song to kick-off the album. Some nice riffs and shreds by Mitch Mitchell.
2. The Corner's Are Glowing (5/5) Instantly catchy uptempo Sprout pop song.
3. Have a Jug (2/5) Title fits it correctly as it sounds like its just Robert Pollard, a junk guitar and a few boilermakers
4. Hangover Child (5/5) Maybe the most catchy, cohesive song of the re-united classic line-up. The clear single of the album.
5. Dome Rust (4/5) A swinging, swaggarish garage-pop ditty like only Pollard can do (sometimes even in his sleep)
6. Finger Gang (2.5/5) Fun, albeit pointless
7. The Challenge Is Much More (4/5) Chugging, meaningful Pollard song with some weight to it. Could easily be a standout track from one of his solo records.
8. Waving At Airplanes (4.5/5) a whimsical, almost twee Sprout song done marvelously right.
9. The Military School Dance Dismissal (4.5/5) Pollard, Sprout, a piano, on a warm day, with dogs and cars going by.
10. White Flag (5/5) A pulsing, instant classic based on Greg Demos' bassline alone!
11. Skin-to-skin Combat (5/5) If pop-rocks candy could be made for ears, it would sound like this infectious Sprout track.
12. She Lives in an Airport (4.5/5) Solid Pollard lyricism with an underlining melody that's hard to forget
13. Tree Fly Jet (2/4) Should have been replaced by a (better) b-side. Another unnecessary noodle, just like "Have a Jug"
14. Waking Up the Stars (5/5) One of the most beautiful, melodious songs I've ever heard from Tobin Sprout. A Beatlesque comparison here would be apt, if I liked The Beatles.
15. Up Instead of Running (4.5/5) A riffy Pollard rave-up. Got to love that almost post-modern 'sha-la-la' chorus!
16. Smoggy Boy (4.5/5) One of those 30 second on-the-fly mini-masterpieces in the vein of "Party" or "Hit"
17. Amorphous Surprise (2/5) Laborious-sounding track that's like a Circus Devils prog-rock demo song played by a sloppy garage band.
18. You Can Fly Anything Right (4/5) Wistful, faux-heartache acoustic ballad, done right, done the Pollard way.
19. Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere (4/5) GBV rock song with some stop-start crunch, peppered by Sprout's melodies glittering over.
All in all, I'd say its better than their last record, but maybe just a pinch below "Let's Go Eat The Factory", their must-have comeback record and first album of 2012. All in All, 2012 was a kick*** year to be a GBV fan!