Most of this record isn't the kind of total genius that can be found elsewhere in Guided By Voices' canon but it's a fine album that shows what can be done if bands just relaxed a bit, stopped worrying about peripheral shit like whether they have the full 16 eyelets in their boots done up or plump for the more casual 14, wrote songs, rocked out and enjoyed the whole shindig.»
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the new guided by voices album is the best thing the band has recorded since the last album by the legendary dayton, ohio rockers. that's not meant facetiously: the last thing guided by voices recorded was the rapturously received let's go eat the factory, and 'class clown spots a ufo' ups the ante raised by that stellar effort, both in terms of recording fidelity (boring!) and songcraft (not boring!) one could argue there's more depth and variety here than on alien lanes, that there are better songs here than on bee thousand, but that's an argument no one's ever going to win, at least definitively. and this album is a win, by any (definitive) definition. class clown is classic gbv, starting with the head-body-head combination of "he rises (our union bellboy)," "blue babbleship bay," and "forever until it breaks" before finishing you off with the title track, a ridiculously catchy, melodically-complex, shot-through-with-melancholia song that serves as a kind of sadder and wiser riposte to xtc's "making plans for nigel" as performed by the hollies. if that makes any sense at all (it will when you hear it, hopefully). and that's just the first four songs of a 21-track album clocking in at just under 40 minutes. we've yet to get to "keep it in motion," a propulsive, drum-machine driven pop song which features, unusually, acoustic guitars, strings, and bob/toby singing together in a way not heard since "14 cheerleader coldfront" on 1992's propeller.