My Top 1000 Songs #396: Don't Stop Now
After years of purveying understated, sometimes inconsistent lo-fi fringe indie rock, Guided by Voices unleashed two veritable classics with 1994's Bee Thousand and 1995's Alien Lanes, sprawling barrages of pithy, barely-finished blueprints for perfect pop and post-punk tracks. And I wouldn't call 1996's slightly-less-revered yet still solid Under The Bushes Under The Stars a radical departure. The formula remains--18 tracks (24 on the CD), some fantastic, some less so but no worries as there are plenty more coming--and more focused on rushing out a hook than ensuring sonic fidelity.
But there are signs of (slightly) more maturity, both musically and production-wise; a little more nuance, a lot less tape hiss. It's most apparent on "Don't Stop Now," though maybe that's just because of the cello. I mean, c'mon, Guided by Voices with a cello? But it's definitely a more sophisticated piece of work, and gives some clues as to the band's later moves into more polished product. The song started off as an unplugged snippet, just Robert Pollard and his guitar, on the King Shit & The Golden Boys outtakes collection (the LP title taken from a lyric in "Don't Stop Now," presumably some sort of toilet joke?); but the remake on Bushes is a little glossier, a finished song that sounds serious and portentous (while retaining the "king shit" business).
It's vague, the usual dose of inexplicable Pollardisms--maybe it aims to be a meaningful environmental anthem? Or just oddball observations? It's unclear--but the number sounds a lot more thought-through and intentional than prior work, and--again, maybe it's those strings--just feels bigger and bolder than what had come before.Live, a couple weeks ago!