After the many, many, many quick-turnaround releases since the demise of GBV, it's often been Robert Pollard's lack of focus that has drawn critism. Albums seemingly get released when any 12 new songs are complete - and the results have been inconsistent to say the least.
With Robert Pollard Is Off To Business however, the charismatic front man's intention to knuckle down and produce a focused 'rock' record is clear from the start. Opener The Original Heart immediatly recalls the sound of 70's Peter Gabriel - a sound Pollard is a sure fan of, after GBV's rousing cover of Solsbury Hill on their Electrifying Conclusion tour. The classic rock continues straight into The Blondes and, while the song is far from being a carbon copy, it's the guitar intro from Led Zeppelin's Tangerine providing the unlikely reference point. While I would have never doubted Pollard as a Led Zeppelin fan (who isn't?) I could probably not have picked a band as seemingly far removed from Pollard's brand of low-fi bombastics.
Off To Business is definitely one of the most direct records amongst the Pollard cannon in quite some time and on the whole it's a rewarding listen. Multi-instrumentalist Todd Tobias provides the backing as usual - and while the intention is all good it can sound a little thin in places, almost as if a one-man-band is providing the sound, rather than a fully fleshed out band and lavish production. But seriously, what were you expecting?
Killer track No One But I is easily up there with GBV's best, with it's understated verses providing a calm before the ever ascending chorus. It's quickly followed by the equally engaging Weatherman and Skin Godess, and the condensed rock of To The Path!, which crams the contents of a Yes epic into a mere 3 minutes 25.
At 10 songs and 33 minutes it's over before it has begun and for once I'm left wanting more, not less. After amicably departing from Merge Records after a four year stint, this is the first (of presumably many) records to be released directly by Pollard, through his own label - Guided By Voices Inc. Hopefully it marks the start of a succesful new chapter.