Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guided By Voices - Devil Between My Toes

Devil Between My Toes (1987) – The instant your ears hit the first tune of this disc you realize what a massive debt early GBV owe to early R.E.M. – the good songs on this release mostly sound like homages to Reckoning, with hard-hitting jangly guitar hooks and loping melodies and Pollard’s Michael Stipe steely drawl. The problem with this album is easily diagnosed: about half of this is half-assed crap. “Hey, Hey Spaceman” which floats to the ionosphere with its du-du-du-du McCartneyesque melody and the charmingly cradle-bouncy “Hank’s Little Fingers” are two of their best-ever tunes, particularly “Spaceman” which is my favorite GBV song, and most of the other songs are pretty good. That is, when they get around to writing songs – about half of this record consists of pointless instrumentals which sound like amateurs dicking around in the basement (which of course is exactly what they are). Quality control has never been Pollard’s strong point but this is perhaps the worst example of him sabotaging his brilliance for little pop gems by releasing every idea he sets his guitar to. **

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