Album Review: Robert Pollard Kicks Cohesion To The Curb
Case in point, he put out two albums in 2010, the lauded “We All Got Out Of The Army” and “Moses on a Snail,” and shows no signs of ceasing quick musical production.
This week's “Space City Kicks” shows a hodge-podge of songwriting and rhythm.
Still in the lo-fi tradition of Guided By Voices and Pavement, the latest maintains its raw roots but refines the sound with more professional studio recording.
Though Pollard may be prolific, it would serve him better to put more effort into each individual song to avoid redundancies and make them stand out.
There are 18 tracks with limited amounts of lyrics, so resorting to repeating the title coupled with a few other lines in each song can irritate after a few rounds of listening.
The opening track, “Mr. Fantastic Must Die” has hints of later Beatles' lyrics and sound (“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” on top of “Helter Skelter”) but adds rougher guitar riffs for half of the song. A psychedelic opener and a good indicator for the other bizarre and random set of songs to follow.
The title, with driving guitar and drums, barely has any other lyrics besides the repetition of “space city kicks!” and “space city rockers get space city kicks.” The beat is almost reminiscent of The Black Keys, but lacks the consistency and strong lyrical backing of a Keys' song. The song crescendos about halfway through, where it appears to end, only to have the beat return at a lower level and the rest of the song becomes more an afterthought.
“Into It,” a sweet reassurance of love, seems the most personal, with Pollard singing and strumming an acoustic guitar: “oh my lady we are going to the sun/cause I love you/and I paid my bills/and I’m on my knees/I’m into it.”
“I Wanna Be Your Man In the Moon” is a twist on the “Cow Jumped Over the Moon” children’s story “where the dish ran away with the spoon.” Pollard turns it into: “I wanna run like a dish with a spoon/I wanna be your man in the moon.” Its light, simple sound with the musical works make it a hopeful sounding track.
“Touch Me In The Right Place At The Right Time” follows the apparent trend in Pollard’s album of literally just repeating the title. This falls into the up tempo category of most of the songs on the album, while few others like “Into It” are slower and softer and do not possess the chaotic noise feel of “Mr. Fantastic Must Die.”
There are some themes injected into the chaotic "Space City Kicks": love and twists on childhood stories (Mr. Fantastic, the Marvel Comic book character, and the dish and the spoon from the children’s rhyme).
Listeners might yearn for a bit more cohesion and lyrics in this long album of very short songs with mere bursts of instrumental arrangements and repetitive words.And while the entire album only takes 35 minutes to listen to, it comes across, at many times, confusing and underdeveloped.
Reach staff reporter Kristin Yinger here