Robert Pollard is a wizard, an inebriated, rule-breaking, melody-wielding wizard. Class Clown Spots a UFO, Guided by Voices' 17th full-length -- also the second of three 2012 releases -- is GBV at their drunkenly meditative best.
CCSAU works only by diving into it. There's really no way to rock this a background music -- sit back, stare out the window, focus on all the clicks, phase-shifts, bizarre/touching lyrics, and abrupt endings.
Once immersed, you are in sitting in the same dimly lit living room as the band, with your feet kicked up on a styrofoam suitcase of beer and your ass getting uncomfortable from sitting in one of the plastic patio chairs they're using as furniture.
This record, just like every other GBV record, can fit anywhere in the band's chronology. Since their inception, their sound and mission has been fully realized. The recording quality varies from four-track cassette to fancy studio to boombox placed right next to the snare drum. Despite the varying degrees of production "professionalism,"Class Clown
is a cohesive trip.
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At times, Pollard's depravity is the only thing keeping the album together. It's striking how a band that sounds so cold and detached can also emote so much feeling.
Listening to Class Clown Spots a UFO is like finding journals written by your crazy drunk uncle who still lives in his parents' garage and skimming through the slurred scribbles only to realize they are surprisingly eloquent poems and DaVinci-caliber sketches of jet packs powered by Bud Light.