Robert Pollard - Mouseman Cloud 12"
What Let's Go Eat the Factory, the January comeback album from lo-fi godheads Guided by Voices' self-appointed "classic lineup," may have lacked in the blackout-savant consistency of the band's salad days, it more than made up for in recaptured camaraderie. More than anything, it nailed that feeling of getting a couple-three beers in you, flipping on the four-track, and watching the results roll in; in other words, not bad for a bunch of old guys. Mouseman Cloud is the beyond-prolific GBV frontman Robert Pollard's first solo LP since Factory, and comparisons between the two are inevitable.
Recorded with his longtime foil Todd Tobias-- and, according to Pollard, with the emphasis on wordplay, not songcraft-- Mouseman is, tune for tune, nearly Factory's equal. But, like so much of Pollard's recent solo work, the lack of warm bodies in the room throughout Mouseman is practically something you can hear, with its bad decisions lined up right alongside the good ones. Factory was a genuinely weird record, but it's a weirdness it seemed to come by honestly. Pollard seems bound and determined to make Mouseman even weirder, drilling its left-field, literalism-be-damned lyrics directly into your skull. But up against even a standard-issue Pollardian ripper like "Bats Flew Up"-- which, being about bats and all, is plenty weird itself-- these flat, rather forced attempts at oddballery give Mouseman a scattered, self-conscious feel it never quite shakes for more than a couple of minutes at a time.