Standard Gargoyle Decisions

Robert Pollard

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Standard Gargoyle Decisions Review

by Mark Deming

It's been more than 20 years since Robert Pollard made his first record as leader of Guided by Voices, and given the steady flood of material that's he's been releasing that band broke out of regional obscurity in the mid-'90s (over 30 albums with the band and as a solo artist to date), there's little arguing that Pollard has thoroughly worked out his songwriting formula. Pollard himself once quipped that he could write six songs while using the toilet, and that three of those would even be good, but the trouble is that very few people can crank out material that way for very long without either repeating themselves or starting to sound rote, and this sort of creative entropy seems to be creeping up on Pollard as evidenced by his 2007 album Standard Gargoyle Decisions (significantly one of two albums Pollard would release the same day). Standard Gargoyle Decisions leans toward the noisier and more outré side of Pollard's musical personality, and certainly rocks harder than its sister set, Coast to Coast Carpet of Love; there are a few corkers on board, in particular the garage rock stomper "Psycho Inertia" and the swaggering neo-glam "Motion Sickness Ghost," while fans with a fondness for Pollard's lo-fi tendencies will appreciate "Come Here Beautiful" and "Butcher Man." But most of this album falls into the same melodic patterns Pollard has been reworking for years, with sloppiness posing as inspiration, and haphazard lyrical obscurity taking the place of having anything new to say, and hard as Pollard and producer/multi-instrumentalist Todd Tobias try to make this stuff move, it's curiously lacking in sweat or joy. Standard Gargoyle Decisions suggests that next time Pollard heads to the bathroom, maybe he should focus on dreaming up one memorable song instead of a half-dozen that sound like musty rejects from Bee Thousand.

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