Sunday, November 1, 2020

Certain Songs #1948: Robert Pollard – “Subspace Biographies” | Medialoper

Album: Waved Out
Year: 1998

. . .

Because he didn’t have enough places to put all of his songs, Robert Pollard started doing solo albums in the mid-1990s in addition to all of the Guided By Voices albums, EPs and compilations he was also releasing. And for the most part, it was all too much: I dutifully bought the solo albums, but I didn’t ever really like more than a few songs from them.

That said, at least on the earlier ones, there was often at least one song as good as anything on a GBV album, like “Subspace Biographies,” from 1998’s Waved Out, which was released in between 1997’s Mag Earwhig! and 1999’s Do The Collapse for those of you keeping score at home.

Driven by merciless drummer Jim MacPherson, who was making the transition from the on-hiatus Breeders to Guided By Voices, “Subspace Biographies” chugs forward, as — surrounded by a three-note guitar hook — Pollard throws out his usual surreal lyrics.

Has there been a break today
Stoned comedian Ringo?
Should I put the plates away?
Captain, are you sure they’re coming in?

That’s followed by a second, twirly guitar hook for a bit, but then all of the guitars become loud power pop chugging rhythm guitars as Pollard sings one of his greatest melodies.

I am quail and quasar
I picked you up on radar
I do my job each day
Empties crushed and fired away
And there is nothing worse th’n
An undetermined person
Can I abuse you please
In my subspace biographies?

And then, he does it again, singing harmonies with himself, and given that “empties crushed and fired away” could actually be a biographical detail, it’s all too perfect to this GBV fan, total and utter singalong material. And of course GBV used to do “Subspace Biographies” in their live show, because why wouldn’t they?

“Subspace Biographies”

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