Boston Spaceships - Let It Beard
Record Label: Guided By Voices, Inc.
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Robert Pollard is a name that almost every music fan knows due to his work in long running indie band Guided By Voices. Pollard is a restless artist, due to his history of releasing large volumes of material at a seemingly superhuman pace. However, while most people have at least heard of Guided By Voices, most people aren’t aware of all the other projects Pollard has been involved in. Just last year, he released albums with Lifeguards, Circus Devils and under his own name. That is a staggering amount of work. Boston Spaceships – comprised of Robert Pollard, multi-instrumentalist Chris Slusarenko and Decemberists drummer John Moen – was Pollard’s primary band and Let It Beard is the sprawling double album swansong for the group.
“Blind 20-20” opens the album and starts with an energetic pace that brings to mind Guided By Voices material, but halfway through the track they slow things down on a guitar strum before the song switches to a piano and acoustic guitar arrangement and Pollard’s distorted vocals. The first eleven tracks of Let It Beard are virtually flawless and surprisingly diverse when you take into account the grungy “Juggernaut vs. Monolith”, the largely acoustic driven “Minefield Searcher” and the spacey “Let More Light Into the House”. “Tabby and Lucy” is one of the strongest tracks on Let It Beard, an energetic pop song that showcases Pollard’s uncanny ability to craft melodies and hooks that are both rough around the edges and insanely infectious.
After the first eleven tracks however, the album hits a few bumps, which is bound to happen with an album as large and sprawling as Let It Beard. “(I’ll Make It) Strong For You” is a plodding, acoustic track that features Pollard singing a little lower than he does on the rest of the album and seems a out of place. I admire many of the decisions on Let It Beard that lead to the band reaching beyond the boundaries of what many listeners would probably expect, but sometimes it doesn’t pay off. While “(I’ll Make It) Strong For You” may have interrupted the flow of the album, it still followed a certain plan. “A Hair In Every Square Inch of the House” is a track that may disrupt the flow of the album as well, but it also disrupts itself and never seems to find a groove. It starts like a freeform jam session to start a practice before switching to what you think is the start of the song. Then everything stops and transitions to a blown out take on classic rock, before stopping once more and transitioning to the final path of the track.
“Let It Beard” is an incredible take on classic rock and while the lyrics can get a bit redundant at times, the opening riff is one that will easily sear itself into your memory. Regardless of any low points that occur throughout Let It Beard, it is obvious that this band functions as a cohesive unit. While Pollard may get a lot of the focus, the superb performances of Chris Slusarenko and John Moen are the glue that holds these songs together. There are numerous stylistic shifts throughout the course of the album, sometimes even in the same song, but they manage to hold it altogether.
While many fans are excited over the return of the original Guided By Voices line-up, it is a shame to think that this is the last Boston Spaceships record. A few tracks seemed out of place on the album, but overall, there were some incredible moments on this record that rival the material of Guided By Voices.