June 20, 1994
Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Lo-Fi, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock

Album Review

The cult of indie rock thrives on the unexpected discovery, and in 1994 Guided by Voices were just the sort of musical phenomenon no one figured was still out there -- 30-something rock obsessives cranking out fractured guitar-driven pop tunes in a laundry room. Robert Pollard and his stable of beer buddies/backing musicians had been churning out stuff like Bee Thousand for years, but the album's surprise critical success marked the first time the group found a significant audience outside their hometown, and it made a clear case for Guided by Voices' virtues -- as well as their flaws. From the moment "Hardcore UFOs" kicks in, it's obvious that Pollard has an uncanny gift for a hook and a melody, and Bee Thousand's 20 cuts are dotted with miniature masterpieces like "Echos Myron," "Smothered in Hugs," and "Queen of Cans and Jars." However, there are also more than a few duds that threaten to cancel out the goodwill the great songs generate, and Pollard is an acquired taste as a lyricist -- his freakishly poetic verse has a real charm, but it's hard to figure out what he's on about. (GBV's other principal songwriter, Tobin Sprout, contributes less often, but manages a higher batting average.) The lo-tech rumble of the album's D.I.Y. production also wavers between being a help and a hindrance, depending on the songs, and as musicians Guided by Voices veer between sounding like inspired amateurs and, well, just amateurs. On Bee Thousand, Guided by Voices sound like a passionate and gloriously quirky garage band fronted by a thrillingly and maddeningly idiosyncratic songwriter; its many pearly moments make it a fascinating discovery for rock enthusiasts, but a few years would pass before this band was fully earning the new accolades showered upon it.
Mark Deming, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Hardcore Ufos
  2. Buzzards and Dreadful Crows
  3. Tractor Rape Chain
  4. The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
  5. Hot Freaks
  6. Smothered in Hugs
  7. Yours to Keep
  8. Echos Myron
  9. Gold Star for Robot Boy
  10. Awful Bliss
  11. Mincer Ray
  12. A Big Fan of the Pigpen
  13. Queen of Cans and Jars
  14. Her Psychology Today
  15. Kicker of Elves
  16. Ester's Day
  17. Demons Are Real
  18. I Am a Scientist
  19. Peep-Hole
  20. You're Not an Airplane
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