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Zero to 99

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Album Review

It's said that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and if that's true, Robert Pollard must have a mind as big as all outdoors. For an artist whose melodic style is as instantly recognizable as Pollard's, there's been a remarkably wide swing in the level of quality in his post-Guided by Voices projects, and the third album from Boston Spaceships — Pollard's ongoing collaboration with Chris Slusarenko and John Moen — unfortunately isn't as strong or engaging as their first two efforts. Zero to 99 is certainly a lot livelier than most of Pollard's solo work, featuring some rollicking post-glam melodies powered by a handful of musicians who aren't afraid to draw sweat and make with the strut. Pollard and his friends were also able to attract some A-list guest stars for these sessions, including Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey from R.E.M., as well as power pop guitar hero Tommy Keene and Sam Coomes of Quasi. And Pollard's own performance can't be faulted; he's singing as well as ever and sounds as engaged as anyone on board. But while Zero to 99 has more impressive credentials than the previous Boston Spaceships' discs, the results don't feel much different from where they've gone before, and this album suffers from the same bugaboo that curses so much of Robert Pollard's music — the impact of a few really good songs has been seriously diluted by a whole bunch that are ultimately nothing special. On Brown Submarine and Planets Are Blasted, Boston Spaceships stood above much of Pollard's recent work because he stuck to top-shelf material with worthy collaborators backing him up. The musicians are as good as ever, but Pollard once again can't seem to tell his star players from his B team, and that's why Zero to 99 disappoints, despite all its virtues.


Formed: June, 2008

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

After disbanding Guided by Voices late in 2004, the ever prolific and busy Robert Pollard worked on solo projects, set up his own Guided by Voices label, and nursed a few GBV odds and ends through the pipeline before starting a new band, Boston Spaceships, with Chris Slusarenko (the Takeovers, Sprinkler) and John Moen (the Decemberists, the Dharma Bums). The band played only seventeen live shows total during their tenure, existing primarily as a recording project except for a single short tour in...
Full bio
Zero to 99, Boston Spaceships
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