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Bad Football

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Album Review

Although Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices, etc., etc.) rarely displays a clear comical side in his musical endeavors (though as of 2007 he had released two albums of his hysterical drunken stage banter), his sense of humor is evident on Bad Football, the second alliance with Chris Slusarenko (also of the departed GBV). There are numerous self-referential and self-deprecating lyrics here, including "I got a fake British accent" from the catchy "Pretty Not Bad" (which contains this amusing backhanded complement of a chorus: "I've got a girl and I like her/'Cus she's pretty not bad") and the uproarious faux-fitness anthem "Kicks at the Gym." Even the throwaway "The Jester of Helpmeat" is more entertaining in this context. Pollard is also more visibly affectionate, such as on the heartfelt "I Can See My Dog" and the life-affirming "Father's Favorite Temperature." His critical contempt of "new rock" is obvious on those comedy records, and here he makes that disdain apparent in the sardonic ode "Music for Us." For those looking for a nod to his past, there are a couple of tunes that resemble mid-period GBV, a case in point being the fist-pumping finale, "My Will," which could be an Alien Lanes outtake. The first few post-Guided by Voices releases found Pollard indulging in one of his favorite genres, prog rock, but there's a whole lot more psych here, with Slusarenko's steady foundation of post-punk and psychedelic indie rock paving the way for Pollard's most rocking album since Isolation Drills (2001). The former GBV principal is more flippant than usual here (though his prose can still be mysterious and there are a couple of references to suicide), contributing to a record that is both laid-back and exciting while somehow remaining consistent throughout.

Bad Football, The Takeovers
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