Elephant Jokes – Robert Pollard

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By Anthony Mark Happel

He’s at it again! Here’s Pollard hitting us with 22 tracks on this latest solo venture (because less is not more in Bobland), and offering a title that just might be a swipe at Republicans. His voice wavers on the first part of the opener, and we’re off to a shaky start. But who can blame him for being a little weary after 25 years and several thousand songs? Let’s face facts, he’s got to be totally fucking exhausted just contemplating music some days. How in the world does he manage to keep at it with such passion and ambition despite massive shoulder shrugging from the general populace?

For further perspective, this is one of six records slated for release in 2009. Amazingly, by song number two, “Johnny Optimist,” he appears to be right back on his game, and he’s buzzing with the best of the later GBV canon, and nodding to all the 27 year olds out there playing music because of the influence of our Mr. Pollard. Some of these songs have a demo-track feel to them, for example, “When a Man Walks Away,” but some of this stuff gets thoughtful, maybe even pensive, like on the opening strains of the fresh-sounding “I Felt Revolved.”

He even steps out of the GBV box and gets a little noisier than usual, and appropriately psychedelic, on the splendidly-titled “Epic Heads.” Eventually, he settles into that standard Who-like/Townshend-like series of statements that he’s always been deeply rooted in. Some people may come away from this record feeling like it’s the same old same old, but if you listen through your own prejudices, and through the bullshit, you can clearly hear that Robert Pollard still has something to say. God bless him for it, another one in the books. Keep on keepin’ on.