Guided by Voices' early-'90s breakthrough records (Propeller, Vampire on Titus, and Bee Thousand) were uniformly great, full of songs on which the patina of quirk--fragmentary structures, amateur recording quality--scarcely masked a peaking melodic sensibility; last year's Mag Earwhig, on the other hand, was a disaster. Same goes for GBV frontman Robert Pollard's lone previous solo album, Not in My Airforce, which scarcely warranted recording, much less release.
So about Waved Out--it's an excellent record. You could scavenge around for baroque reasons as to why, but they're not really there; it's no more or less stylistically varied than your average GBV record, its influences are identical, and the recording method is irrelevant. But it does have two things that Pollard appeared to have lost: consistency and quality. It's his first record in four years that's boasted both in tandem, and, as such, it'll quickly remind you what all the fuss was about in the first place. "Make Use," "Wrinkled Ghost," "People Are Leaving," and, especially, the insanely catchy "Subspace Biographies" are among the finest songs he's ever put to tape, and he's put rather many.
More importantly, everything else--the one-minute acoustic numbers, the minute-and-a-half prog-rock fragments, the record-closing instrumental--approaches the skill and hummability of those highlights; even the retarded cabaret of "Showbiz Opera Waltz" somehow works, and nothing here sounds like a throwaway. Of course, that's the joke with Pollard--on some levels, everything he does sounds like a throwaway.
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Brilliant, sort of, for all the right-wrong reasons, meaning: It sounds just like the Beasties and Beck, and it sounds just like the Beasties and Beck. Of course, Alejandro Rosso and (just) Jonas get the novelty-sympathy vote for hailing from Monterey, Mexico, and rapping in English, Japanese, and Spanish. A kid from Manhattan samples the Minutemen and the Meters, and it's what-else-ya-got?, but a coupla guys from Mexico do it, and suddenly it's viva la multiculti revolution. Not that Aqua Mosh, made in Los Angeles and first released in Mexico last year, ain't fun and funky: Produced by Beck's right- and left-hand men Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf (it's Bexican!), it's all killer no filler (save the two weak-ass lounge throwaways), and "Monster Truck" could be the curioso hit if Spike Jonze directs the video. The best record this hour.