Published Oct 30, 2019Eight years, five EPs and 13 LPs since their reformation, it's no longer surprising to witness Guided By Voices put out so much music so consistently. It's now more remarkable to reflect on how strong the band's material had remained throughout the '10s.
Although they've haven't released anything as classic as Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes in past decade, their output has reliably rivalled second-tier albums like Mag Earwhig! and Isolation Drills. The Dayton, OH group's 29th LP (and third of 2019!), Sweating the Plague, keeps the streak alive — that is to say, it's a dependable collection of simply written, forward-moving indie rock.
But the five-piece's latest offers a few modifications, most notably the length of the material, as the 12 songs (the least amount on any GbV album) find themselves running around the three-minute mark, with two of their longest tracks, the soaring "The Very Second" and the gentle orchestral closer "Sons of the Beard" standing as some of the band's more adventurous works.
There's also a heavier element here, as standouts "Tiger on Top" and "Unfun Glitz" find their personality from Bobby Bare Jr. and Doug Gillard's grinding guitar interplay, matched by Robert Pollard's anthemic howl. Sweating the Plague shows Robert Pollard achieving the near-impossible; stringing together a steady decade of such strong material this late into his band's career. (Independent)