Rock's most prolific artist returns with yet
another excursion into the rich tapestry that is rock 'n' roll. This latest GBV
collection marks also the band's return to the Matador stable after two uncharacteristic
albeit excellent albums (viz. Do the Collapse and Isolation Drills)
with TVT. Leader Bob Pollard may seem to be issuing music on a monthly basis
under several guises but certainly, he saves his best for GBV releases.
Whilst the two TVT albums witnessed Pollard rein in his more idiosyncratic tendencies to produce well-developed material, Universal Truths and Cycles picks up basically where Pollard left off with 1997's Mag Earwhig! - the band's last album with Matador.
This fact is never more obvious with the opening 35:25 second "Wire Greyhound" which strongly evokes GBV's biggest influence - the Who circa 1965. Indeed, the album contains nineteen tracks with many never straying beyond the two-minute mark - a defining feature of Pollard and co.
Pollard & band are on fire here, casting their net wide to capture brilliantly diverse aspects of rock's considerable history. For instance: the gorgeous sixties pop of "Cheyenne," the edgy punk of "Everywhere With Helicopter" & "Car Language," the Townshend-ian progressive rock opera of "Christian Animation Torch Carriers," the baroque chamber pop of "Pretty Bombs," the assured classic rock of "Storm Vibrations" & "Eureka Signs," the bizarre folk-rock of "The Weeping Bogeyman," "The Ids Are Alright" & "Factory of Raw Essentials" and the dynamic pleasing powerpop of "Back to the Lake," "Love 1" & the title track.
Once again, Pollard - ably aided and abetted by Doug Gillard, Nate Farley, Tim Tobias and Jon McCann - has concocted a dizzying confection that affirms the relevance of rock music even as our beloved medium reaches its half century. No one does it better. A