Robert Pollard’s rationale for breaking up Guided by Voices in 2004 was that he was a grown-ass man and it was somehow unbecoming to be a member of the boy’s club that every all-male group becomes. So what does he do four years later? He starts another band, Boston Spaceships. And what’s the difference between this band, the last band, and the umpteen solo discs that arrived in the interim? Not much.
As with the majority of Pollard-related products, Brown Submarine is a motley affair that delivers several fair-to-middling pop-rockers, three or four artsy toss-offs that you’ll find yourself skipping over, and a couple of masterpieces on par with the late ’60s sound of The Who, early Wire, or—you guessed it—Guided by Voices. A trio on record (they appear live as a five-piece group), Boston Spaceships hit peak stride with the flat-out rocker “Zero Fix” and the poppier “Andy Playboy,” a track Pollard explains as being about a high-school football teammate with a secret life.
Brown Submarine will certainly not change your life, but it does serve as yet another solid brick in the ever-expanding Pollard canon. For true believers, it’s a satisfying meal.