Robert Pollard

Superman Was a Rocker

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First things first: take a good look at Superman's outfit. Lots of bright colors, big pop art logo on his chest, snazzy cape on his back...clearly, that guy was a mod, not a rocker, even if he did spend half his time wearing a lame off-the-rack suit as Clark Kent. Second and more important: this album is not a rocker, and despite the list of personnel on the back, it's not a Guided by Voices record either. Robert Pollard stitched together Superman Was a Rocker by adding new vocal and melodic bits to a number of instrumental recordings he made with various musicians between 1980 and 2007, including former GBV members such as Tobin Sprout, Doug Gillard, Mitch Mitchell, and Nate Farley. This approach might suggest that Pollard was a little short on fresh ideas the day he decided to make a new album, but the results of this visit to Pollard's dead letter office makes it clear he should have bit the bullet and started from scratch. Most of the cuts on Superman Was a Rocker aren't songs so much as melodic fragments, ideas that never fully resolve themselves or coalesce into anything more than rough sketches, and when the most entertaining selection on the album consists of Mitch Mitchell and Kevin Fennell being berated by some guy with a Southern accent during a radio interview, it becomes clear that even by Pollard's "warts and all" standards, this is little more than a dressed-up batch of throwaways and discards. Robert Pollard used to seem like a nonstop pop songwriting machine whose weakest records contained at least one or two killer hooks, but Superman Was a Rocker lacks a single melody you'll remember after it's over (the closest thing to a worthwhile song significantly appears twice), and this ventures way past sloppy into the unfortunate land of "Why did they bother?" Even hardcore Pollard fans should be wary of this one.

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