Guided By Voices: Strut Of Kings [Album Review]

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Guided By Voices
Strut Of Kings
GBV Inc. [2024]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Album Overview: Guided By Voices, spearheaded by longtime leader Robert Pollard, has been a prominent figure in the indie rock scene for four decades. Known for their prolific output, the band has released numerous albums (sometimes multiple in one year), showcasing their dynamic and ever-changing sound. Strut Of Kings, the only album GBV will release this year (insert sad emoji), marks the band’s 41st studio album. This latest work, recorded in Brooklyn, delivers some of the band’s most memorable melodies in recent years. For the legion of fans out there, Strut Of Kings is a masterclass in indie rock brilliance, blending punchy anthems with heartfelt ballads, all delivered with the band’s signature raw energy and melodic flair. It’s a vintage GBV experience that both old fans and new listeners will find irresistible!

Musical Style: Strut Of Kings continues the band’s recent signature blend of indie rock with catchy hooks and a raw, authentic sound. It features a mixture of energetic and thought-provoking tracks, maintaining their unique approach to songcraft.

Evolution of Sound: Over the years, Guided By Voices has transitioned from their early lo-fi recordings to a more polished yet still very indie rock sound. Strut Of Kings encapsulates this natural path for the band, merging their classic style with new influences and ideas.

Artists with Similar Fire: Pavement, Sebadoh, and Cloud Nothings all have some current similarities to Guided By Voices’ sound by their approach, unpredictability and veteran charm.

Pivotal Tracks: “Fictional Environment Dream” combines rock and indie influences, reflecting the unique style of Guided By Voices. The song features strong chords reminiscent of the Mag Earwhig! period, while Pollard’s confident singing makes it a true highlight on Strut Of Kings. “Bit Of A Crunch” showcases Pollard’s skill in creating ballads. When you think of GBV, you don’t initially go right to the power ballad, but lasting nearly five minutes, “Bit Of A Crunch” is one of their best in this modern era. The song brilliantly builds up midway, driven by Pollard’s heartfelt vocals, making a true impact. “Serene King” returns to the band’s signature anthems. It showcases Guided By Voices’ strengths with strong vocal melodies, memorable guitars, and a powerful chorus. The bassline alone will have you hitting replay quickly!

Lyrical Strength: Robert Pollard’s lyrics continue to be a highlight, weaving imaginative and vivid imagery that challenges and entertains the listener, maintaining a balance between the surreal and the reflective.

Nowhere To Go But Up (2023) / Welshpool Frillies (2023) / La La Land (2023) / Scalping The Guru (2022) / Tremblers And Goggles By Rank (2022) / Crystal Nuns Cathedral (2022) / It’s Not Them. It Couldn’t Be Them. It Is Them! (2021) / Cub Scout Bowling Pins: Clang Clang Ho (2021) / Earth Man Blues (2021) / Mirrored Aztec (2020) / Surrender Your Poppy Field (2020) / Sweating The Plague (2019) / Warp And Woof (2019) / Zeppelin Over China (2019) / Space Gun (2018) / Ogre’s Trumpet (2018) / How Do You Spell Heaven (2017) / August By Cake (2017) / Please Be Honest (2016) / Suitcase 4 (2015) / Cool Planet (2014) / Motivational Jumpsuit (2014) / English Little League (2013) / Down By The Racetrack EP (2013) / The Bears For Lunch (2012) / Class Clown Spots A UFO (2012) / Let’s Go Eat The Factory (2012)

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Thomas Wilde

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