Guided by Voices

Clown Prince of the Menthol Trailer [EP]

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For some people, small chunks of Guided by Voices might be the best way to absorb the band, which would make an EP the ideal starting point. With seven songs flashing by in ten-and-a-half minutes, Clown Prince of the Menthol Trailer finds the band in typically fine fashion. As with all GbV, some of the songs are inspired (the diamond here, "Madder Eater Lad"), the rest experimental (dirges like "Hunter Complex" and "Scalping the Guru"), and it is tough to appreciate some of the more experimental tendencies of Robert & Jim Pollard and Tobin Sprout's songwriting jones. With every listen, however, the logic of the songs gradually begins to seep out until, finally, you don't remember how you could have ever disliked any of them. It's like the band is playing the wrong guitar chords for the melodies half the time, or Pollard is singing the wrong song. But in at least three of the songs here, as in every other Guided by Voices release, there is a split second during the song where exactly the right balance is struck, and it makes all the wrong notes that precede and follow sound just right. That's how it is with GbV -- they let the mistakes shine.