Even if you havenâ€™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 heâ€™ll have put out three Guided By Voices albums before January rolls around. Either he half-asses everything he does, or heâ€™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 donâ€™t make sense, but theyâ€™re catchy enough that youâ€™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 theyâ€™re all imperfect little gems.
Highlights from the record are â€œFighting the Smoke,â€ featuring darkly distorted guitar and bass; the jangly and ironically upbeat â€œPontius Pilate Heartâ€; and the slowly building â€œThe Rank of a Nurse,â€ deserving of a good lighter wave or two. To me, the best moment is the finale, â€œWinter Comes to Those Who Pray.â€ 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.