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Moses On a Snail

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Album Review

The quality of Robert Pollard's post-Guided by Voices output has been variable, but his stylistic approach has been quite consistent, best summed up by the axiom "Like GBV, But Not as Good." Pollard's solo work has been dominated by the same kind of short, hooky explosions of pop songcraft that were his earlier band's stock in trade, but without the same degree of energy and a more sterile studio approach, with Pollard and Todd Tobias handling everything themselves (the interaction between Pollard and his bandmates seemingly had more to do with the strength of GBV's best albums than anyone imagined at the time). But on 2010's Moses on a Snail, Pollard shifts gears for the first time in a while — it's not been uncommon for a few slower tunes to pop up on his albums, suggesting Pollard's fondness for the more melodic avenues of progressive rock and art rock, and on Moses on a Snail, he lets this side of his music come to the forefront and dominate the song list. Pollard aims for a grander and more contemplative sound on Moses on a Snail, and he seems willing to acknowledge his age, with these songs better suited to his voice (still in good shape, but a bit rougher and lower than it once was), as well as revealing some deeper lyrical concerns (still cryptic, but "How I've Been in Trouble," "It's a Pleasure Being You," and the title song certainly sound weightier and less playful than, say, "Echoes Myron" or "Glad Girls"). This isn't the best of Pollard's solo efforts to date, but it reflects an admirable effort to move past the sound and approach he's been working with since the early '90s, and it's more compatible with his current working methods. As fate would have it, Moses on a Snail was released not long after Pollard announced that Guided by Voices would be re-forming for a short reunion tour; it's anyone's guess how revisiting his past will impact his new music, but this album at least makes it seem like he's pondering the difference between the two stages of his career, which is a big step in the right direction.


Born: 31 October 1957 in Dayton, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the things that made Guided by Voices' rise from underground curios to indie superstars in the early '90s so noteworthy was that vocalist/guitarist Robert Pollard was also a teacher, an uncommon occupation for rock & roll idols. Pollard was born on October 31, 1957, in Dayton, Ohio. As a child, he was groomed by his father to become a professional athlete, and pitched a no-hitter for his high-school baseball team, but in college he realized that music meant more to him than sports. Pollard...
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Moses On a Snail, Robert Pollard
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