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Distinction Lost, Again – Robert Pollard’s “Faulty Superheroes”

Robert Pollard
Faulty Superheroes
Guided By Voices Inc.

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Because, I guess, it’s Thursday, Robert Pollard has delivered a new record. This one’s a concept album, Faulty Superheroes, and Pollard proves with these tunes dealing directly – and obliquely, of course – with the superhero trope, that his songwriting skills are still well above par. But, but, really?… another album on Todd Tobias’s golf course, hammering home the same old riffs on the back nine? There’s been no distinctive difference in Pollard’s solo output since 2007’s Coast to Coast Carpet of Love. (Unless you count the execrable Superman Was a Rocker, or the surprising greatness of Lord of the Birdcage from a few years back.) Pollard seems to save his gems for the EPs that he puts out under different names, like South (as the “Carbon Whales”) or Clouds on the Polar Landscape, by the “Sunflower Logic.” Even his other side projects, The Takeovers, Boston Spaceships, and Mars Classroom make the albums with the “Robert Pollard” stamp on them seem tossed off (in the worst sense) in comparison. Get the Pollard albums for some no-nonsense rock and predictably offbeat lyrics, but you might want to save your rock allowance for the occasional pseudonymous EPs and collaborative albums where Bob really seems to unfurl his freak flag. In the meantime, we suggest you steer clear.