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Mr. Run Amok


Barely a minute into From A Compound Eye, Bob Pollard’s first major solo effort since the dissolution of Guided By Voices, he announces:

“I never, ever met a day I didn’t like.” Longtime followers of His Bobness would have to conclude that he’s similarly never met a Pollard composition he didn’t like.

While some artists build their myth around the absence of new work (Sly Stone, anyone?), Pollard wows his devotees with the sheer volume of his catalog, as if someone so ridiculously prolific must be a genius or an extraterrestrial, or both. Of course, TV nerdlinger Steve Allen often claimed he’d written thousands of songs, too, and how many of those do you remember?

Pollard’s unwillingness (inability?) to edit himself can be mega-grating, but all the same, his most inspired gems tend to come when he lets his Mr. Run Amok tendencies go wild. His late-period GBV work showed some sense of discipline, but offered little to match the mid-’90s heights of “Gold Star For Robot Boy” or “Tractor Rape Chain.”

From a compound eye
Robert Pollard
(Merge Records)

From A Compound Eye is stuffed to the eyeballs with ideas, and too many of them don’t pass the sniff test. It’s hard to understand what Pollard sees in pointless fragments such as “Flowering Orphan” or “Kensington Cradle.” On the other hand, the “Mr. Blue Sky” propulsion of “Dancing Girls and Dancing Men” results in one of Pollard’s most perfect pop creations, and the raucously inappropriate horniness of “I’m A Widow (“I’m a widow and I’m hot to do you”) feels like a lost treasure from The Who Sell Out.

Still as fascinating and frustrating as ever, Pollard dumps this rough draft in your lap and leaves you to sort out the mess. But that’s why God invented iPods.

Gilbert Garcia

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