Guided By Voices - How Do You Spell Heaven?
After countless lineup changes, breakups and reformations, the latest line up of the veterans of lo-fi Guided By Voices return with their 24th full length album How Do You Spell Heaven?. Their second release of 2017, now with a full GBV roster, since April’s double album August By Cake which also had the impressive accolade of being bandleader Robert Pollard’s 100th album. So with album 101 being released and a slew of live dates on the horizon, can the man from Dayton and his latest crew deliver the goods?
In two words, hell yes! How Do You Spell Heaven is a balls to the wall, no frills, rock and roll album. Bolstered by the strong line up of Doug Gillard and Bobby Bare Jr. on guitar, Mark Shue on bass, and Kevin March on drums, the vibe here is classic rock rather than the band’s earlier lo-fi but don’t fear there are still elements of the college rock that gained the group their notoriety. Highlights of the record include album opener ‘The Birthday Democrats’ with its simplistic post punk riff that accelerates into a barn stormer, ‘King 007’ which starts as a basic strum along acoustic before morphing Bowie glam rock chug, the dark prog rock of ‘How to Murder a Man’, the stoner fuzz rock of ‘Steppenwolf Mausoleum’, and the fantastic T-Rex instrumental of ‘Pearly Gates Smoke Machine.
What How Do You Spell Heaven? does isn’t revolutionary. It carries on Pollard’s aim for the group, creating hands across the ocean merging the middle American rock of bands like Cheap Trick with the 60s and 70s British rock from bands like The Who and David Bowie. However, they have managed to return with a familiar sound that never comes across as contrived or parody, just plain spoken rock and roll, and manages to be more directly focused than April’s August By Cake. Done and dusted in a taut 37 minutes, a welcome return.