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Guided by Voices | Warp and Woof

Those 90-second songs Uncle Bob peppers his disc with? This set has nothing but.

Some haters claim that if you’ve heard one Guided by Voices album, you’ve heard them all. And admittedly, as Robert Pollard has churned out album after album of British Invasion pop-rock nuggets much the same as McDonald’s churns out chicken nuggets, it can sometimes be hard to disagree very vehemently. But not this time. This time is different. You know those 90-second songs that Pollard has always peppered throughout GBV albums (not to mention all his various solo and extracurricular releases)? Well, Warp and Woof — the second of at least three planned GBV releases this year — consists of almost nothing but those songs. The entire 24-track album lasts just 37 minutes, with just two tunes cracking the two-minute mark. I have no idea if Pollard was challenging himself to write the briefest songs possible, or if he just strung all his shortest cuts together, or if these are all unfinished demos, or if it’s meant to be some sort of concept album, or if he did the whole thing on a bet or a dare or a drunken spree or what. I do know that even for a dedicated long-term fan like me, the set’s ultra-rapid fire approach takes a little getting used to. But on the plus side, it does encourage you to pay attention — if your mind wanders even briefly, you can miss an entire clump of killer cuts. Similarly, because the songs zip by so fast, you frequently find yourself skipping backward to repeat tracks. And to Uncle Bob’s credit, his batting average is pretty high here — there are few duds in the lineup (and almost no filler, obviously). Finally, just to keep the momentum going, there are no gaps between the tracks, so every track runs into the next one and the album ends up sounding like a rock opera written and recorded by a band with severe ADD. Which, come to think of it, is something else haters claim about Guided by Voices. Fair enough.

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