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Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department

Robert Pollard & Doug Gillard

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Album Review

On the fourth try, Pollard lets fly a solo LP as engaging throughout as his most developed, consistent Guided by Voices ones. Infinitely better than Waved Out and Kid Marine (both somewhat saved by a minority of killer tracks), and with as many high points as the typically big-hit-and-lots-of-miss-mess of Not in My Airforce, Speak Kindly starts with the gentle hum-along bang of "Frequent Weaver Who Burns" and never crests. Wonderful! Maybe it's Gillard's influence, Pollard's main ally since the lamentable demise of the classic GBV lineup. But between this and Do the Collapse, the prolific Pollard is extinguishing the perception that burn-out has rotted his touch along with his quality control. Tired of fragments that don't add up to songs? Perhaps Pollard hears you, for there's none hiding here behind the usual bizarre titles. In fact, though one would expect these 15 tracks to be the leftovers, like Grapefruit Leaguers that didn't make the big league cut of Collapse, it's actually a shame these won't be given the wider audience a GBV moniker provides. There's been such a barrage of Pollard material, the patience and tingle of most indie fans has been stricken with indigestion. The peril, then, is that most will be unaware of what a crisp LP he's made — what a tenacious, unusual work it is even for him, with fresh tricks and licks, not half-hearted throwaways that imprison the odd full-fledged treat. Moreover, for those who liked the tunes of Collapse, but were hesitant over Ric Ocasek's strong but slicker production, Speak Gently is a more spontaneous, organic, combustive, non-lo-fi, great-sounding work. Pollard is back with a bang. Having lulled us all to sleep, we might not notice.

Customer Reviews


Amazing Album. If anyone is thinking of downloading, you've come this far... Honestly, Best Solo Pollard with the Guiter Con Carne Doug Gillard. It's a Win.


this one is a really great one.

The Best

I think this is the best GBV, Pollard album. Every song is fully formed, highly listenable and engaging. Worth coming back to year after year. The joint venture with Doug Gillard really makes this one shine.


Born: October 31, 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...
Full Bio