It’s not hard to understand the underground buzz about Bee Thousand, the latest batch of basement tapes (and the eighth overall album) released by Guided By Voices. The band is a loose conglomeration of bash-happy friends and relatives of Robert Pollard, a 36-year-old Dayton, Ohio, elementary schoolteacher with a serious Beatles affliction.
Obnoxiously smart and obnoxiously sloppy, Bee Thousand contains the same formal appreciation of pop tradition and the same seeming irreverence toward the music business that have characterized previous critical darlings from the Soft Boys to the Replacements. (Those qualities also helped them snag a slot on the Second Stage of the Lollapalooza ’94 tour.)
Most of these 20 “songs” are little more than fragments of single, occasionally glorious Lennon/McCartney-style licks pegged to ostentatiously gratuitous absurdities. The resulting profound lack of meaning is as intensely aggravating as its sheer novelty is appealing. Whether he wants to or not, Pollard and his loose-knit gang may be the logical successors to Beck in the up-from-the-underground poster-boy category. B+