Faulty Superheroes is great both in the context of his old work, and by itself.Fire Records, 2015
8.4 / 10
When evaluating the work of a musician with a long career, it’s natural to want to compare their previous and latest work. Robert Pollard does not make this easy — he has more than 1,700 songs registered with BMI, and 22 albums recorded with Guided By Voices, the band whose success saved the Dayton, Ohio native from a teaching career when the project was signed to Scat Records in 1993.
As the only permanent member of Guided By Voices, Pollard was a master of creating songs that were short but felt filled with hours of material, emotion, and occasional weirdness. GBV is no longer a thing, but through the band and by himself, Pollard has created a huge amount of work to compare a new solo album to. Naming his latest release Faulty Superheroes could be an acknowledgement of this, as if to say, “I don’t care if this lives up to your expectations. No one ever said your idols were perfect.”
They definitely aren’t, but there isn’t anything to complain about on Faulty Superheroes. It’s great both in the context of his old work, and by itself. At 57, Pollard’s voice is still charismatic, and he lets it crack and waver naturally. He makes no huge effort to grab your attention, but earns it anyway with reassuring, endearing vocals.
I enjoyed the album most when I was listened to it in one sitting, from start to finish. This is probably because Faulty Superheroes is one of those records that has the same, distinct sound throughout every song. In this case, that’s a lush, yet industrial feel created by a wall of fuzzy, power-pop guitar lines and abrupt chord changes that give it a grand, soaring quality. The two last songs tie for the album’s best: The sinister, twisting guitars and heavy beat of “Mozart’s Throne”, and the acoustic, wistful “Perikeet Vista”. Other key tracks are “Faster The Great” and the title track. But, “You Only Need One” has some of the best guitar work on the album, and the wordplay of “Take Me To Yolita” is a must-listen. “Photo Enforced Human Highway” is pretty great, too. Hey, just go listen to the whole thing, ok?