Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guided By Voices - Same Place the Fly Got Smashed

Same Place the Fly Got Smashed (1990) – The real downer in the GBV catalog, all of the songs are about drunks and the misery of alcoholism. Perhaps sticking to a concept forced Pollard to focus – this isn’t up to prime GBV quality, but it’s a considerable improvement. For once the lyrics are understandably about something, not just random stream of consciousness gibberish, and while the band’s playing is still garage-level (as is the lo-fi production), the advances in songwriting make this the best of the early GBV LP litter. It’s still inconsistent and half-assed in plenty of spots, but there are a clutchful of GBV classics: anthemic rocker, “The Hard Way”; miserable self-pitying ballads “When She Turns 50” (“I might be dead”) and “Drinker’s Peace” in which sounding like it was recorded in a cellar closet actually enhances the feeling of cold, spare desolation. GBV seem to be learning for the first time how to use poor recording quality to their sonic advantage and there are enough hints of future greatness (the shimmering pop that ends the record, “How Loft I Am?”) to make this there first genuinely good album. It’s not all the way there but listenability is finally achieved. ***

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