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Lifeguards – Waving at the Astronauts

on April 13, 2011, 7:58am

Anyone who thought Robert Pollard would calm down and relax after folding Guided by Voices had clearly miscalculated Uncle Bob. He has released dozens of albums since that band’s swan song (Half Smiles of the Decomposed) and will likely release hundreds more before downing that last can of Bud on his way to the pearly gates. Hell, the man even reformed the classic GBV lineup for a reunion tour that will continue on through the Pitchfork Music Festival in July. Before the summer comes the spring, and before the spring comes the winter. This past winter, Pollard and fellow GBV veteran Doug Gillard released Waving at the Astronauts under the name Lifeguards, maintaining the off-the-wall lyricism Pollard is known for, as well as the chug-along guitar play of Gillard.

Those searching for the lo-fi skips and scratches of Bee Thousand or Alien Lanes will not find satisfaction in that respect. However, fans of the Do the Collapse-and-onward era of GBV should be pleased with what they hear popping out of their stereos and headphones. The crisp production gives boost to riff-taking guitars and leaping rhythm sections. Opening track “Paradise is Not So Bad” opens with a deceiving acoustic guitar before giving way to a stomping chorus and big chords. The punkish “Sexless Auto” is worthy of a healthy head bang, while the T. Rex homage of “Trip the Web” will wear your ankles out from all the toe-tapping.

However, by the time “Keep It in Orbit” comes a-galloping along, you discover a downside to Waving at the Astronauts: it never threatens to stay in your head very long after listening to it. It’s a breezy affair for a decidedly not breezy effort (the album is roughly six years in the making). So while there isn’t a “Game of Pricks” found in this pack of tracks, devout followers of Pollard’s career won’t be too disappointed, finding themselves waving along with him.

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