Guided by Voices August by Cake
Last year, Robert Pollard proved he required no additional voices to craft a quality Guided By Voices album, writing and playing every note of Please Be Honest himself. On follow-up August by Cake, he swings the pendulum to the opposite end, inviting his latest bandmates to contribute not only guitars and drums, but also songs; nine of the double-record’s 32 tracks were written (and in most cases sung) by people not named Pollard.
That “outside” input fits in quite coherently, and in some cases—guitarist Doug Gillard’s Wire-y “Deflect/ Project,” drummer Kevin March’s swirling “Overloaded” and bassist Mark Shue’s punkish “Sudden Fiction,” for example—brings new hues to GBV’s indie-rock rainbow. Better still, with a fully invested set of musicians behind him, Pollard’s material feels tougher and, well, band-ier than it has since 2011 Boston Spaceships behemoth Let It Beard. As he closes in on 60, Pollard’s songwriting and voice are elastic as ever, and he piles up a tower of varied new GBV favorites—the majestic “We Liken the Sun,” irresistible earworm “Dr. Feelgood Falls Off the Ocean” and heavy-bordering-on-doom chant-along “Circus Day Hold Out,” to name just three—sure to sound even more forceful when delivered onstage.