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We've Moved

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Album Review

The second full-length by Psycho & the Birds was recorded in the same fashion as 2006's All That Is Holy and its follow-up EP, Check Your Zoo: Robert Pollard recorded his rough guitar and voice demos (according to the press kit, on the same cheap department store boombox that much of the early Guided by Voices material was recorded on) on his own and sent them to multi-instrumentalist producer Todd Tobias to be fleshed out. Because Tobias was Pollard's primary creative foil in the final era of Guided by Voices (Universal Truths and Cycles, Earthquake Glue, and Half Smiles of the Decomposed), the overall effect on We've Moved is that of a cross-generational GBV mashup, as if the defiantly lo-fi sound of Propeller and Vampire on Titus and the more polished pop/rock sound of the mature band are battling each other out. Occasionally, early GBV wins: "Tomorrow Man" finds Pollard singing lines like "Hey, you burned-out piece of s**t" to little more than amplified tape hiss, stray guitar chords, and what sounds like a ping-pong ball rattling around an echo chamber. Sometimes, Tobias all but drowns out Pollard's original tape in a brisk barrage of guitar overdubs, as on "Hound Has the Advantage" and the Led Zeppelin pastiche "I'm Never Gonna Leave, You're Never Gonna Win." But most often, the two elements fuse together naturally, resulting in vintage Pollard pop songs like "Hybertech Green" and "Person Who Lives in a Thundercloud" and unexpected genre experiments like the genuinely lovely, "Sleepwalk"-style weepy guitar instrumental "Poor Old Pine" and the peculiar new wave norteño of "Corona Grande." Casual Guided by Voices fans are often leery of Pollard's side projects, owing to the undeniable reality that among indie rock singer/songwriters only R. Stevie Moore is less able to edit himself effectively, but Psycho & the Birds in general is one of his more accessible guises, and We've Moved is as good or better than anything Pollard has released since the demise of the mothership band.

We've Moved, Psycho and the Birds
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