There is wisdom here....

There is wisdom here. "Don't apologise for perfect lies" is the first line Tobin Sprout utters, and as one half of the prolific songwriting force behind Guided By Voices (with Robert Pollard), he should know. Over the course of the past decade, GBV have frequently been within arm's reach of beatific pop perfection but, being lo-fidelity stalwarts with antisocial hair, they have taken perverse pleasure in dicing their records up, paying penance for each pristine melody with an excess of scratchy, fragmentary non-tunes.

Now that Sprout has transplanted to Michigan (Pollard remains in Ohio), their collaborations have become less frequent. 'Let's Welcome...', Sprout's third solo album, spurns GBV's intermittent obliqueness for a clean 35 minutes of lushly transcendent melodies, spinning together the battered recalcitrance of Elliott Smith, the visceral bite of Lou Barlow and the radiant hum of Big Star into songs richly suggestive of the wide-open skies and long ochre summers of middle America.

Although there's a spate of nonsense (in 'Who's Adolescence', he rants, "Put shoes on a rabbit/ Inviting a constant reframe"), Sprout has also hit upon some of his more arresting lyrical images ("Maybe it's the way she breathes/Her sighs in perfect line"). And even when the songs come in at under two minutes (the tersely wistful 'Mayhem Stone'), they never seem incomplete.

It's taken a long time, but maybe Sprout has finally realised that perfection is nothing to be ashamed of.
8 / 10

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