Nothing against Robert Pollard's FAIL. Well FAIL has become an internet meme (first use of the word meme!) that stamps sketchy behavior as complete failures, universally, instantly -- the Bush administration, the new 90210 (it is growing though, right?), Chinese Democracy, most Robert Pollard creations in the last five years. Wait a minute...did I just put Uncle Bob in the FAIL column? Superman Was a Rocker? FAIL. Motel of Fools? FAIL. The last three Circus Devil's releases? FAIL. But I get nostalgic, very nostalgic. I start going through the highlights from those years -- Coast to Coast Carpet of Love, Lightningpot to Coffeehead, the theme to Bubble -- all genius. So why the abundance of dirt-weeed served up as legitimate releases? Why all the karp-filled lake-water (no lake in Dayton, Akron?) mucking the vision? I suppose it's in his blood to write songs, it's his job. Besides a couple pick-up basketball games a week, that's what the guy does. The theory is that his legacy will be so thick by the time he's gone that it will take historians years to sift through it to find all the gold, and when you start sifting now, through his post-millenial output, you'll likely find some gold. Fiction Man?
Which brings us to The Crawling Distance...the gem of this crop so far (though it has been eight years), unless of course you include Half Smiles of the Decomposed, which might just be the greatest record he's ever made, honest (then all bets are off). Ears were peaked with Off to Business, and as I mentioned in my recent review of The Crawling Distance, the Pollard solo records are your best bet. Fiction Man?
Perhaps it's the introspection gained from picking back through the BOX, with Self-Inflicted Ariel Nostalgia and Same Place the Fly Got Smashed being just the icing on the cake, or the fact that The Crawling Distance is the first time since Under the Bushes, Under the Stars that Uncle Bob sounds completely at ease, without ego (excepting the final song here, "Too Much Fun"), in a zone of melancholy. I suppose I can judge it on the number of times I've paid attention to a Pollard album in the oughts. I lost track, fallen of my course. By now I should have two shelves of GBV/Pollard vinyl, but there's only one (why the ridiculous price of your LPs GBV Inc?). I suspect though that, at age 60, there will still be six albums that year, and I will lovingly go through them all at least once. There's a prodigy in Ohio -- and The Crawling Distance should stand as, yet another, benchmark in his stature as a stately treasure. Go forward, young (old) man.
Though he's always been quite prolific with videos for each release (due to the number devotees committing their art/time) all I could find, so far, from this record is "The Butler Stands for All of Us" -- and anthem rocker, but nowhere representative of the beauty The Crawling Distance reveals.