Just when we were all getting used to the notion of Guided by Voices making only one album a year and recording songs that were in the neighborhood of three minutes long, Robert Pollard has to go and remind us he's still the guy who made Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. Something of a throwback to GbV's early lo-fi era, 2019's Warp and Woof -- which arrived a bit less than three months after the super-sized Zeppelin Over China -- is a manic burst of bite-sized tuneage, whipping through 24 songs in less than 37 minutes. Originally planned as a stopgap EP, Warp and Woof grew into an LP as the band cut tunes during soundchecks, while waiting backstage, in their tour van, and at home, in addition to some studio sessions, and the results speak to the scattershot nature of its creation -- in a good way. Warp and Woof leaps from one idea to another in rapid succession, never letting any of them wear out their welcome, giving one melody just enough time to sink in before the next one takes its place. However, there are some substantive differences between Warp and Woof and GbV's lo-fi salad days. While the recording quality varies from track to track, this music is tighter and better focused than what the band delivered in their relative youth, and the upgrade in studio craft does make a difference. And even more important, this lineup of Guided by Voices continues to demonstrate it may be the best in the group's nearly 35-year history, and guitarists Doug Gillard and Bobby Bare, Jr., bassist Mark Shue, and drummer Kevin March hit a near-perfect sweet spot between raw, scrappy basement jamming and the power of a tight, emphatic rock band in full flight. Warp and Woof is a series of short sprints compared to the marathon of Zeppelin Over China, but it covers a lot of ground at a brisk pace and it's a whole lot of fun. Who would have guessed that GbV would be in the midst of a new golden era 15 years after they first broke up?
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
Track Listing - Disc 1