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It’s September 2027, and you’re authoring a program for the 96-hour “Robert Pollard Flying Party Marathon,” to be held next month in celebration of what would have been Our Hallowed Bob’s 70th birthday. An arduous undertaking: Having spent the last year living, eating, imbibing, and excreting the many and sundry by-products of Guided by Voices, Lexo and the Leapers, the Soft Rock Renegades, and so forth, you’re up for it. Your concerns are tactical, with an eye to placating the armed and ornery Postal Blowfish contingent, limiting the size and expense of the guide itself, and maximizing concession-stand purchases of all-beef franks and Budweiser. Which recordings demand breathless appreciations (e.g., Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department, Bee Thousand, his mid-1990s Matador output)? Which bear highlighting for select nuggets (e.g., Isolation Drills and Universal Truths & Cycles)? Which selections could simply be listed unceremoniously (e.g., Suitcase, Airport 5 in general, Normal Happiness)?
You reach an impasse at the one-two solo punch of Coast to Coast Carpet of Love and Standard Gargoyle Decisions, released in October 2007. The former is stolid but unremarkable, while the latter, though intriguingly rough-and-tumble, is a more accessible shadow of earlier Pollard diversions wherein the erstwhile Fading Captain seemed to cast aside watery-domestic for some harder stuff, à la Kid Marine and Waved Out, about which you’ve already been overly effusive in your praise. Yet there are glad girls skinny-dipping in the bath water. Carpet coughs up the faux-chippy, McCarthyesque “Nicely Now” and the autumnal shrug-chuggery of “Miles Under the Skin,” its pretty, sunny strum gripped by droning keyboards that one could mistake for strings. But Decisions is where the real action almost is: “The Killers” doles out reverse-negative blare props to Brandon Flowers and Ernest Hemingway, joined by the starched-note paranoia of “Don’t Trust Anybody,” the mid-tempo gang-chant “Here Comes Garcia,” and the buff, bludgeoned strut of “Butcher Man,” which Danzig totally should’ve covered before that fatal bench-pressing incident in ’09. So Carpet‘s just another title on the list, Decisions rates a coupla begrudging sentences, and hey, only 29 discs left to go!