Robert Pollard: Jack Sells the Cow
Even if you haven’t heard of him, you should appreciate that Robert Pollard is one of the hardest working musicians alive. This is his second solo LP released this year, and he’ll have put out three Guided By Voices albums before January rolls around. Either he half-asses everything he does, or he’s a master. Fortunately, Jack Sells the Cow shows that the answer is the latter.
Pollard specializes in lo-fi indie songs that deliver a quick punch and then retreat. The lyrics often don’t make sense, but they’re catchy enough that you’ll find yourself repeating the nonsense later on. All of the songs on Jack Sells the Cow are under four minutes, many under three, but they’re all imperfect little gems.
Highlights from the record are “Fighting the Smoke,” featuring darkly distorted guitar and bass; the jangly and ironically upbeat “Pontius Pilate Heart”; and the slowly building “The Rank of a Nurse,” deserving of a good lighter wave or two. To me, the best moment is the finale, “Winter Comes to Those Who Pray.” Incessant guitar, drums, and synth lay the groundwork as the song surges and then tumbles into chaos.
At times, Jack Sells the Cow lacks a bit of direction, but overall, it’s a solid offering from this Ohio native.