BOSTON SPACESHIPS: Brown Submarine [Guided By Voices Inc.]

At least two of the following mildewed factoids seem mandatory in any Robert Pollard review: “used to be a teacher,” “sings in a fake British accent,” “takes the occasional drink” and “needs an editor.” Given the tepid reaction to some of Pollard’s recent efforts, “return to form” might be added to the lexicon of staleness when discussing the debut LP by Pollard’s latest incarnation, Boston Spaceships. (Late-period Guided By Voices bassist Chris Slusarenko on guitar and other instruments and Decemberists drummer John Moen fill out this new power trio.) Fanboys (“Return to form? Everything’s always been great!”) and naysayers (“Why does he have to release every song he writes?”) will never settle their differences. Though I generally partake in the Kool-Aid, some of Pollard’s post-GBV stuff has admittedly either gone over my head or missed the sweet spot. Brown Submarine’s pleasures, however, are inarguable. Swaggering opener “Winston’s Atomic Bird” evokes GBV circa Devil Between My Toes, while the pretty, pastoral folk pop of “Two Girl Area” conjures Every Picture Tells A Story-era Rod Stewart. The bouncy “Ready To Pop” is aptly descriptive, and the equally catchy “Andy Playboy” succinctly tells a wannabe band frontman’s story in a mere minute and a half. Boasting sharp lyrics and plenty of strong songwriting, Brown Submarine may be Pollard’s most entertaining start-to-finish record since 2006’s double-whammy of From A Compound Eye and Blues And Boogie Shoes. On or off the Pollard bandwagon, all aboard this Submarine. []

—Matt Hickey