Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guided By Voices - Sandbox

Sandbox (1987) – This one’s better because the band decided to try recording a proper album as a proper band. That means no tossed off jams filling up space. Instead, GBV go for a straightforward hard-rock approach, and that’s the problem – it’s not as if they aren’t any good as a straightforward hard-rock band, it’s just that they aren’t terribly interesting as an ordinary rock band. There aren’t the quirky edges and curveballs of your typical GBV release; just one mid-tempo rocker after the other. Some stand out (“The Drinking Jim Crow”) but the melodies are squashed and the guitar sound is too stiff and dry (a problem they’d revisit a decade later on the Mag Earwhig! LP). The best song, “Long Distance Man” is laidback pop with a terrific chorus that sounds nothing like the surrounding tracks. The most consistent of their early LPs, which isn’t necessarily a compliment – too samey-samey. **1/2

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