In the '90s I often read the back page of Rolling Stone, specifically the "College Album Top Ten," and wondered who the Christian rock band Guided By Voices was. Turns out they weren't all that Christian (and I'm an idiot). No doubt the music has a redemptive and resurrective quality, but we don't have time for extended metaphors or for a lesson on why the '90s rule[d]. Suffice it to say that vocalist, undisputed leader and serial songwriter Robert Pollard is the bird that makes this dog hunt.
The current line-up is of the "classic variety," featuring musicians who formed the core group from '93 to '96. They maintain their lo-fi, self-recorded energy, with short songs that sound more fragmented than unabridged. The Peter Murphy-esque "Hang Mr. Kite" is haunting and begins to carry emotional weight before ending a little soon at 1:41. The same could be said for "God Loves Us," or most of the other teaser tracks. But the beautiful morosity of "Waves" is pure GBV magic. If I were to make a memory of drinking Boone's Farm in a country cemetery one heated summer night with the girl from the bakery, "Waves" would guide us to the precipice—but no further.