Robert Pollard - Honey Locust Honky Tonk 12"
“Prolific” has long been the dominant adjective to describe Robert Pollard, and even then it sounds like an understatement. Deep into his fifties, he hasn’t lost a beat or slowed down a bit, but instead churns out album after album after EP after one-off solo thing after album. Already in 2013 he has released a new Guided by Voices album, a full-length under his Teenage Guitar pseudonym, a singles box set, and a 12”, with who knows what all else planned for the next six months. It’s been this way for decades now, such that Pollard’s chief trait as an artist is the frequency of his output. Consequently, it’s all too easy to forget that he’s not just a prolific songwriter, but a good songwriter, too. Indie rock’s own Joyce Carol Oates possesses an insanely deep vocabulary of classic-rock tropes, a facility with killer hooks, and an idiosyncratic lyrical style that has matured to reveal new depths of wisdom, humor, and harrumphing crotchetiness.
It should surprise exactly no-one that Honey Locust Honky Tonk is a good record: Even at his most unedited and undigested, Pollard’s music still displays a joy in its own resourcefulness, a contentment in its own faith in the power of rock and roll to define a life. In other words, every release is worth spinning at least once. But it should surprise everyone that Honey Locust Honky Tonk is a very good record, his best and most focused in quite some time. One byproduct of his prolific nature is a constant flattening out of his catalog, so that everything, especially at this end of his career, begins to blur together; the highs never seem quite so exciting anymore, the lows no longer quite so embarrassing, and very little stands out as essential. That any particular release stands out at all is by now a small miracle.