NME’s Ben Hewitt says that unlike Pixies, Pavement et al, Guided By Voices are the only reuniting indie heroes coming back with any integrity.
In one of those eerie moments of serendipity that seldom happens in real life, I was listening to ‘Motor Away’ by Guided By Voices on my headphones when I got a text message from a mate which said “Did you hear the news? GUIDED BY VOICES ARE REUNITING!”
Normally I’m hardened to the flurry of nostalgia that occurs when bands put aside their ‘creative differences’ (real translation: mutual loathing) to milk a new greatest hits compilation and trudge their way through soulless stadium shows. When everyone else practically soiled themselves with excitement after Pavement announced their reformation tour, I remained unmoved. But Guided By Voices: they were one of the bands I found salvation in a few years ago, when I was a country-dwelling teen surrounded by thick-skulled Linkin Park fans. And it won’t be just Robert Pollard and a bunch of session musicians, but the classic line-up, responsible for their 1994 masterpiece ‘Bee Thousand’, among others. Fuck Pavement. This was better than Pavement. “THAT’S AMAZING!” I replied, line an excitable North Korean girl about to see Justin Bieber in the flesh for the first time.
Lurking underneath the mainstream for years, it always seemed cruelly ironic that when Guided By Voices appeared in The Strokes’ video for ‘Someday’, they were entering one of their most fallow periods. Unfortunately the seal of approval coincided with their sloppy 2002 album ‘Universal Truths And Cycles’. But delve into their back catalogue and you’ll unearth some treasures. To me, the aforementioned ‘Bee Thousand’ will always be their killer album, but you can’t go wrong with ‘Propeller’ or ‘Alien Lanes’ either – or, essentially, any of the records made by the line-up who’ll be reforming later this year.
I won’t be there to see it, sadly. There’s no cash-grabbing worldwide tour; just a one-off show for their old record label Matador in Las Vegas this October, so unless NME are feeling particularly generous and fancy sending me off to the Entertainment Capital of the World, I won’t hear them play ‘Echoes Myron’ or ‘Tractor Rape Chain’.
But perversely, it makes the whole thing that bit more special. After Black Francis killed any last vestiges of romance left in the reunion tour by admitting Pixies were only still in it for the dollar, Guided By Voices’ reunion seems…purer, somehow. No frills, no fuss, no hastily compiled career retrospectives. Just the best line-up playing the best songs from the best albums. What could be sweeter?
This article originally appeared in the July 17 issue of NME
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