Guided by Voices alumnus and all around rock legend Robert Pollard is at it yet again. And just to clarify, by “it” means creating a divine rock album. This time he does so with the help of The Decembrists’ John Moen and Chris Slusarenko, also formerly of Guided by Voices, on The Planets are Blasted, the second album for Boston Spaceships, following 2008’s Brown Submarine.
Pollard has written thousands of songs in his almost 30 year career, and continues to do so at a seemingly impossible pace, as he, too, is the primary composer for his latest project. Keeping with the Guided by Voices tradition, most of the tracks on The Planets are Blasted are under the three-minute mark, with the majority clocking in at around two minutes and 30 seconds.
Pollard covers a plethora of musical genres on Boston Spaceships’ latest release. Regardless, the entire album belongs to another era in rock, miles ahead of the current crop of indie rockers. “Tattoo Mission” is reminiscent of a Led Zeppelin composition. Not any one Zeppelin song in particular, but the way that it begins with a prominent guitar, leads into a steady drum line, then complements with subtle violins makes it, maybe, a little “Kashmir-esque.” Regardless, it’s fantastic, considering not many bands can pull off anything even closely resembling Led Zeppelin.
The Planets are Blasted covers everything from ’90s alternative with “Keep Me Down,” to psychedelic rock with “Dorothy’s Planet.” The lyrics to “Sylph” are superb, flawlessly complementing the instrumental accompaniment: “we don’t like her to run/ not when she’s happy up in her top secret room/ preaching the choir.”
The entire album seems more appropriate for a late 1970s release date than a current one, yet is still modern and relevant. “In this city there is nothing to cling to,” is an appropriate final line for the last track of the album, easily relatable for a 20 something college student to a middle-aged dude holding fast to his rock `n’ roll dreams. While Pollard channels the days of yore, he does so by composing an album that every rock music aficionado can get on board with. The Planets are Blasted is an unadulterated, fabulously under-produced album with carefully constructed lyrics and just the right amount of musicality. There isn’t an overabundance of synthesizer or effects, or any other meaningless addition. Each song is handled with care, assembled with the utmost detail to produce an extremely entertaining album, even for the most jaded of rock purists.
The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love
Robert Pollard – The Crawling Distance
Psycho and The Birds – We’ve Moved