Customarily, when a band wraps up a farewell tour, fans expect not to hear anything from them again; however, this is not the case when it comes to Guided by Voices' creative mastermind, Robert Pollard. During the Ohio-based band’s hiatus beginning in 2004, Pollard released thirteen solo albums under a variety of monikers. Continuing in his tradition of prolificacy, Pollard has another solo album due out in March. However, for now he is back with a new record from the classic lineup of the legendary indie-rock outfit and another on he way in the spring.

Following suit with the band’s discography, Let’s Go Eat the Factory, the group’s 16th release, is less a straightforward album than a collection of songs. With striking variances in song length, production and instrumentation the listener never knows what the next track holds, such as on “Spiderfighter,” which begins with the lo-fi production techniques that made the band’s experimental style famous in the group’s starting years, yet switches to a more polished production—the track morphs from a fuzzed-out rocker to a sweetly sung piano piece in just a few bars. These variations can mainly be attributed to Pollard’s prolific nature; he always has several clear musical ideas going at any given moment. Unfortunately, many of the tracks on Let’s Go Eat the Factory are not fleshed out into the rock gems that they could be. Just when the melody of a track begins to stick, the song abruptly changes.

Though a classic feature of Guided by Voices records, the lack of focus, coupled with bizarre lyrical content, makes Let’s Go Eat the Factory abrasive to new listeners. However, the band isn’t really trying to expand its fan base—this is a record for Guided by Voices fans. The album marks a return to the band’s classic sound and a departure from the slick production of the group’s later work (2004’s Half Smiles of the Decomposed).

A few tracks on Let’s Go Eat the Factory might appeal to both GBV veterans and newcomers alike. “The Unsinkable Fats Domino” contains some of the album’s catchiest melodies, and the quivering “Waves,” weighing in at around three and a half minutes, is one of the record’s most well developed songs. Guided by Voices’ intentional regression in their sound on this album takes listeners back to a time when the band was making music that sounded fresh, though in the year 2012 their sound has been copied and recreated so much that the feel of the record now seems out of place. Vintage sound or not, Let’s Go Eat the Factory is a must listen for GBV fans or fans of lo-fi and experimental music.

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