Guided by Voices comes out with their fifth full release in eighteen months, and the indie rock veterans are showing no signs of slowing down. Big riffs and big hooks with bold song structures are abound in Mirrored Aztec. The band has been known for dense releases with short songs that pack a punch before jumping headfirst to the next exciting thing. This may run the risk of dulling down the quality for less experienced artists, but this isn’t applicable to frontman Robert Pollard, who’s songwriting prowess has been tested across three decades with more than a hundred albums under his credit.
The album opens with its eureka moment. “I Think I Had It. I Think I Have It Again” captures the joy of discovering a new idea with its ascending guitar riffs that blossom with excitement and fervor. “Brunco Men” is a refurbished Pollard classic. GBV gives it an HD coating from its 90’s lo-fi origins, preserving its luster while boosting its longevity for a new audience.
Other highlights include “Too Keep an Area”, which is a rife with tides of alluring rock riffs. In it Pollard sings about fostering a safe haven for his child, while facing the bittersweet feeling of them going their own way. “Show of Hands” is trippy and cinematic, with a British-invasion era rock feel that pits heavy guitars with theatrical synth sections. “Biker’s Nest” jams the speakers with its heavy riffs and lo-fi veneer. GBV shifts into early metal in this hard mosher that’s reminiscent of Black Sabbath.
Even from a band that touts their expertise with varied songwriting styles, GBV still manages to throw out standout oddballs with “Please Don’t Be Honest” and “Math Rock”. The former takes on a 80’s post-punk vibe with crunchy tones moving in a breakneck pace, before changing it up abruptly in a Ziggy Stardust-like dream sequence of spacey harmonies and arpeggios. The latter is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the Math Rock genre with jumpy rhythms and angular riffs, except Pollard juxtaposes the title and gives it a whimsical spin that mimics an educational TV show. It ends with a school choir ending while Pollard sings: “Children of the nation / join me in the celebration.”
With 31 album releases to date, Guided By Voices not only proves their longevity but also displays a solid framework for success in creative pursuits. They prove that consistency and quantity can elevate everything to a higher standard. Pollard shows a love and dedication for the craft that few people have and Mirrored Aztec solidifies that they are here to stay.