Guided by Voices is an indie band from Dayton, Ohio that formed in 1983. The band features the legendary Robert Pollard (vocals), Tobin Sprout (Guitar/Vocals), Mitch Mitchell (Guitar), Kevin Fennell (drums) and Greg Demos(bass). They disbanded in 2004 and left fans thinking they would never see them again, but Guided By Voices reunited in 2010 to the excitement of many. Guided By Voices garnered a cult following from their lo-fi rock albums released in the mid 90’s. Since their reunion Guided By voices has picked up right where they left off and have been continuing what has turned out to be a legendary musical career.
The Bears For Lunch is Guided By Voices third full-length album since their reunion, it also happens to be their third full length of 2012. Earlier this year they released Let’s Go Eat the Factory and Class Clown Spots a UFO, which were both fantastic records, but The Bears for Lunch is arguably the best release of the three. It is difficult to say that this record sounds like anyone else other than Guided by Voices, because Guided by Voices have made their own unique sound and The Bears for Lunch really could not be mistaken to be anyone other than Pollard and the gang.
The Bears for Lunch has all the essential parts of a great Guided by Voices record; it has the rock/punk anthems, the intimate and beautiful acoustic ballads and the lo-fi experimental songs. Album opener “King Arthur the Red” starts off the record with a bang, utilizing the familiar tricks of a Guided by Voices rock song. The loud and heavily distorted chords blaze through with the thunderous drums from Fennell, which lays the groundwork for Pollard to give a characteristically great vocal performance. The single “Hangover Child” is another great example of a great Guided by Voices rock song. It is not quite as loud as “King Arthur the Red” but what it lacks in volume in makes up for with infectious hooks and perhaps the best vocal performance from Pollard on the record.
The record also features some of the best acoustic songs in the Guided by Voices discography. “You Can Fly Anything” showcases Robert Pollard’s diversity and has one of the best guitar lines on the album. “Walking Up the Stars” is another great acoustic track. Tobin Sprout takes the lead vocals on this track and does a great job with it. He has a softer voice than Pollard and it really fits the mood of “Walking Up the Stars.” Even the lo-fi experimental tracks on this album are great. Honestly, if you are not a Guided by Voices fan these are the less accessible tracks that are generally not as instantly likeable. For big fans, The Bears for Lunch has some really great experimental tracks. Songs like “Dome Rust” or “Finger Gang” are short and sweet and feature odd verses that stumble along into Pollard’s wonderful choruses. These tracks might take a few more listens to truly enjoy, but they really stand out as some of the strongest tracks after multiple listens of the entire album.
The Bears for Lunch is a fantastic release from the newly reformed Guided by Voices. It has all the ingredients needed to make up a classic Guided by Voices record. It is a great starter record if you are unfamiliar with Guided by Voices other material and it is a good layout of what to expect from their previous releases. The Bears for Lunch may not be as good some of the classic Guided by Voices records such as Bee Thousand or Alien Lanes, but it is definitely a fantastic release for them and another great addition to the Guided by Voices discography.