Robert Pollard and his Soft Rock Renegades

Choreographed Man of War (Rockathon Records)

God love Robert Pollard. As Guided by Voices’ beer-soaked Fading Captain and fearless solo troubadour, the man is still cramming in up to eight, nine, sometimes ten records a year amid an insane touring schedule, a splintered family, and the annual consumption of eight, nine, sometimes ten thousand bottles of Bud Light. His latest solo LP, Choreographed Man of War, is yet another sonic page ripped from the storied Pollard songbook. As gritty as anything from GBV’s long celebrated past, this is the album that the band would have made had they never stumbled into a 24-track studio or toiled under Ric Ocasek’s dictatorial booze prohibition. Granted, Man of War does occasionally sound like a collection of Isolation Drills demos. But while that record’s dark moods are couched in (and sometimes glossed over by) a seamless studio sheen, Man of War basks in its creator’s darkest hour, and remains in the fetal fluids of red-level garage rock. The record’s foremost recurring themes are loneliness, uncertainty, and escapism, which might force any blood ‘n’ guts GBV fan to stop and cock a worried ear. When the seven-minute “Instrument Beetle” finishes spinning its impotently repetitive cycle at the end of the record, it’s pretty clear that our boy Bob — indie rock’s “iron-man” — is engaging in some serious personal reflection. Pollard has mentioned in numerous interviews that he feels like he’s finally “growing up.” Could it be that the specter of regret is initiating its ominous hover over one of rock ‘n’ roll’s last remaining good old boys?

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