Guided By Voices – Let’s Go Eat the Factory

I do find it a bit of a mixed bag; GBV were always a restless and slightly alien proposition, one that couldn’t really take time to worry about defining itself for eternital judgement.


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So they’re back, and it feels as if they’ve not really been away…. Well not entirely, as this particular reunion sees the old pre 97 line up back in action, and at times – with tracks like The Unsinkable Fats Domino and How I Met My Mother - it does feel like the old GBV we knew and loved is back amongst us. Of course everything is ridiculously short; the production has that fuzzy, bustling feel that their mid ‘90s releases like Alien Lanes had. It’s slipshod and carefree, and it’s also good to hear Tobin Sprout’s warbly vocals on tracks like Spider Fighter and the marvellous Who Invented the Sun. Now and again, with growling soliloquies like The Big Hat Toy Show, the record harks back to LPs like Same Place as The Fly Got Smashed.
However I do find it a bit of a mixed bag; GBV were always a restless and slightly alien proposition, one that couldn’t really take time to worry about defining itself for eternital judgement. And given Captain Bob’s work rate over the years - with his solo work, side projects and other GBV line ups, that’s hardly surprising. On the first couple of listens to Let’s Go Eat the Factory, you do get the feeling that with this first record (there will be about 5 more within a year I bet), they are trying to establish what it was about them in the first place that made them so different. And at worst the record sounds like a workmanlike attempt to re-invigorate old attitudes, which seems in itself a pointless exercise given the body of GBV’s work: you can’t for instance tie Do the Collapse, Earthquake Glue, this record and Propeller together. You can also hear that a track like the brilliant We Won’t Apologise For The Human Race is “late period GBV” in its style, there’s no way they’d have written this back in the days of sitting in their Dayton basement.
Fair enough, and you know, they’re a great band and it’s a good record despite my mithering; I just hope that they keep looking forward, not back.