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Universal Truths and Cycles

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iTunes Review

After recording two albums with outside producers — Do the Collapse with Ric Ocasek, Isolation Drills with Rob Schnapf — Guided By Voices returned home to Ohio and settled back into their lower-fi scheme. Not quite the tape-hiss-riddled lo-fi crunch of Bee Thousand, Universal Truths and Cycles does have that tossed-up, homespun quality where the songs often sound as if they're being recorded from the couch they were written on. "Christian Animation Torch Carriers" verges on prog-rock with its discordant guitar riffs and stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Elsewhere, singer Robert Pollard sounds like his usual Beatle-intrigued, power-pop obsessed self. "Zap" whips past in little more than a minute. "Cheyenne" sounds like a lost mid-‘60s pop classic with its quirky Left Banke falsetto jump. "The Weeping Bogeyman" could be a Robyn Hitchcock outtake. GBV exist in an alternate universe where these are hit singles. Considering the magnitude of their cult, it's not an all together false notion. While the band's final albums lack any real innovation — they've gone as far as one can from lo to hi-fi — they're still packed with charming moments ("Eureka Signs," "Back to the Lake").

Customer Reviews


But should not be ignored! Another great effort from an amazing band - and the hi-fi recording makes it much more listenable. If only past gems could be remastered away from the low-fi that only hard core fans enjoy.......

The Era Ends

I really enjoyed this CD by Guided by Voices for a few reasons. This is the 2nd album they made that introduced new hi-fi sounds and created a much crisper flow to the album. Many die-hard fans saw this as GBV's 'sell-out' because they stopped doing what made them such a hit... they stopped recording in lo-fi. I found it to be extremely prolific, in fact, I thought the music was much better than the critically acclaimed albums such as "Bee Thousand" and "Mag Earwhig." Pollard still is a master of lyrics, and the band mixes acoustic tracks throughout. My one complaint, however, was that the longevity of the tracks was very short. While they are catchy, the lyrics and the songs themselves will never, ever get stuck in your head and will never, ever be one of those "Dude, listen to this song, it's the best I've ever heard" types of work. The Bottom Line: I enjoyed the album and loved the lyrics, but a few tracks are just downright mediocre. (e.g. Tracks 14-17)


Formed: 1985 in Dayton, OH

Genre: Alternative

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

Inspired equally by jangle pop and arty post-punk, Guided by Voices created a series of trebly, hissy indie rock records filled with infectiously brief pop songs that fell somewhere between the British Invasion and prog rock. After recording six self-released albums between 1986 and 1992, the Dayton, Ohio-based band attracted a handful of fans within the American indie rock underground. With the 1994 release of Bee Thousand, the group became an unexpected alternative rock sensation, winning positive...
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