Robert Pollard – Jack Sells the Cow Review

Robert Pollard Jack Sells The Cow cover

Bob being the best Bob he can be.

Guided by Voices, 2012

8.0/ 10.0

Given the sheer amount of songs Bob Pollard has written, played, and recorded, it doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense that he has released so many of them under names other than Guided by Voices, even if the majority of the non GbV tunes were under his own name, as a solo artist. Bob’s solo output, like most post-classic Guided by Voices releases, has been hit or miss, although his first on-his-own outing, 1996’s Not in my Airforce stands shoulders high along with the best GbV ever did. NimA had some of the best songs Pollard ever penned, on the toilet or not, including “Get Under It”, “Girl Named Captain”, “The Ash Grey Proclamation”, and “Flat Beauty”; epics all.

Pollard’s subsequent solo efforts were inconsistent; sometimes album to album, song to song, or even verse to chorus within the same song. Bob’s propensity for casually tossed off fuckedupness, and ADD song fragments frequently are both the best and worst parts of his musical personality. Listeners’ hardcore fandboy and fangirl status can hang on their ability and desire to wade through his dense levels of drunken bullshit, the philosophy being, “There’ll be another album in a few months, so bear with me.” Sure it’s indulgent, but if anyone has earned it, it’s Dayton’s favorite son, and frequently, multiple listens reward the patient. Pollard’s newest, Jack Sells the Cow, his second solo effort of the year, is a gut slug of pensive power pop and one of his more straight-forward efforts in some time.

Not to say that Bob isn’t first and foremost a rocker, but Jack Sells the Cow is a short-on-frills effort that is well served by the old master’s surgical focus. In spite of the interstellar radio reception that introduces “Who’s Running My Ranch”, the song proper builds on a Scratch Acid styled bass bounce and guitar bleats into a blustery punk throttling that X could be proud of. “Up For All That” is the easy going ballad that Bob always seemed to think “Hold on Hope” was, but really kinda wasn’t. Pollard’s not-so-secret early R.E.M. obsession gets a needed kick in the pants on album standout “Pontius Pilate Heart”. I can’t say that I know if Peter Buck has a guest appearance on the album, but if not, it’s someone doing a damn fine impression. It’s not to say that Bob comes across as older on Jack Sells the Cow, cuz this shit wails, bro. But, he’s certainly wiser.

Purchase: Robert Pollard – Jack Sells the Cow