Guided by Voices

Box

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Compiling all of Guided By Voices' '80s albums -- Devil Between My Toes, Sandbox, Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia, and Same Place the Fly Got Smashed (the vinyl version includes Propeller, which was on the Vampire on Titus CD) -- and adding a collection of rarities called King Shit and the Golden Boys, Box is a bit of an intimidating listen for some devoted fans, let alone beginners. On each of their albums, Guided By Voices packs their records full of brief songs -- if they reach the three-minute mark, it's an epic for the band. That can make such a massive collection of music rather daunting; it all seems to speed by without much distinction, if you're listening casually, but on closer inspection, it withstands repeated listens. The first records, Devils and Sandbox, are unpolished versions of R.E.M.'s Murmur. On the next two albums, the group's distinctive, British Invasion-inspired abbreviated pop begins to coalesce; their music sounds more like messages than songs, albeit messages that are driven by undeniable hooks. Retailing for under $50, Box is a worthwhile investment for dedicated fans.

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