Review : Boston Spaceships - Our Cubehouse Still Rocks
PitchforkSo much talk around Robert Pollard is shop-talk; who's in which band now, what's our fidelity level, can this one hang with Mag Earwhig!, that sort of thing. Pollard doesn't so much have fans as obsessives, and-- coupled with his beyond-prolific release schedule and seemingly willful inconsistency-- at this point it can almost seem like you're either in or you're out. But every nut out there divebombing their credit scores to chase the Fading Captain through his many diversions got hooked the same way: on the strength of one perfectly weird, immediately ingratiating pop tune after another. And neophyte and fanatic both will find much to like about the sharp, spirited Our Cubehouse Still Rocks, the fourth LP from the Boston Spaceships. Though still strange and singular enough to only be Pollard, the warm, exuberant songs that comprise Cubehouse don't take a master's in Pollardiana to dig into.
Though it lifts its title from James Joyce's improbably dense Finnegan's Wake, Cubehouse is a decidedly straightforward affair, a bright, rollicking blast of nearly fat-free power-pop with a few more nods than usual to Pollard faves Cheap Trick. Like the Spaceships records before it, Cubehouse keeps the tempos up and the spirits high; Uncle Bob's in a good mood. Decemberists drummer John Moen and multi-instrumentalist Chris Slusarenko are, as ever, an extremely complimentary musical unit for Pollard's songs, tight and tuned-in but unafraid of a little dazzle. And here on Cubehouse, their warm, worn-in arrangements serve as ideal foils for Pollard's most genial, generous collection in years....full text
PopmattersWriting a review of a Robert Pollard album or side-project these days seems a lot like dancing about architecture. It’s, in many ways, an act of futility. Since the proper dissolution of his main band, Guided by Voices, in late 2004 (not counting the reunited classic line-up that is heading out on tour this fall), Pollard has gone on to record a gabillion albums, either solo or otherwise—some of which are good, some of which are less so. Basically, Pollard is clearly making music for himself these days on a boutique label, and the die-hard fans are more than eager to go along.
I used to be a member of Disarm the Settlers, a Guided by Voices fan message board, and there was some discussion amongst its members last fall of starting a review site of strictly Bob material, in which each release would earn a perfect 10 rating. If Pollard was to record an entire album’s worth of armpit noises, it seems evident that a few thousand people would go out and slavishly buy it. Hence the futility part: it doesn’t matter what a reviewer like myself has to say about a latter day Robert Pollard album, because the die-hard fans (which are pretty much those who are still buying Pollard’s records) are going to fund his trips out into whatever netherworld of songcraft he’s mining that particular month, even if some of the trips can be pretty far out.
As for the more casual Bob-ophile, I’m convinced that such a beast doesn’t really exist. It seems that many of the fair-weather fans of Guided by Voices probably stopped really paying attention about the time GbV’s swan-song, Half Smiles of the Decomposed, came out, or perhaps once Pollard stopped making solo music on a major indie label a couple of years later. Yet it is to this audience that I more or less address this review to: has the songwriter put out an album that the occasional buyer might be interested in, someone who wants to hear Bob at his most anthemic?...full text
AvclubRobert Pollard’s recent promise to release five albums in 10 months was slightly ominous. The last two solo albums from the Guided By Voices frontman were dozy, crunchy affairs; Circus Devils’ stabs at spooky psychedelia have been touch-and-go; and Boston Spaceships—the collaboration with former GBV’er and Takeovers multi-instrumentalist Chris Slusarenko and The Decemberists’ John Moen—still had some proving to do, even though the group’s latest albums were bristly enough to scrub off any lingering traces of Brown Submarine’s gunk. But Uncle Bob had the right idea when he promoted The Spaceships from one of his “postal-rock” bands to a living, breathing touring outfit, and Our Cubehouse Still Rocks, while less varied than Zero To 99, and without the sourpuss charm of Planets Are Blasted, is an anthem-heavy affair that’s both the band’s best work to date and Pollard’s most satisfying outing since From A Compound Eye. “Airwaves” is a handclap-accented T. Rex groove that pauses halfway through to scrape one of Marc Bolan’s chewing-gum-sticky guitar solos off its heel, and “Dunkirk Is Frozen” finds Pollard mugging as a Dum Dum Boy, freezer-burned vocals and all. Along with “John The Dwarf Wants To Become An Angel”—which really wants to become “Wrecking Now”—the rest of Cubehouse proves there’s enough juice left in the tank to fuel those next four releases....full text
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