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Of Course You Are
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  • Sometimes it's difficult to tell Robert Pollard's various solo albums and many side projects apart from one another, given the distinct tone of his songwriting and the fact his cronies often pop up on one album after another, and if Pollard's 2016 solo album Of Course You Are occasionally recalls his recent recordings with "sophisticated arena rock band" Ricked Wicky, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for that -- Pollard's musical sidekick in Ricked Wicky, Nick Mitchell, not only produced and engineered Of Course You Are, he played all the instruments himself. That said, while Mitchell has his stamp on both this album and the Ricked Wicky material, Of Course You Are is also one of the most musically ambitious albums Pollard has released under his various monikers in quite some time. Mitchell has filled out Pollard's tunes with smart, thoughtful arrangements that often move beyond the guitar/bass/drums simplicity that has marked much of his non-Guided by Voices work, and Mitchell's applications of keyboards, horns, and strings give this a sophisticated texture that at once recalls the discount-store grandeur of GbV's glory days and stands apart from Pollard's previous body of work. (Even when Mitchell keeps the backing simple, his guitar work has enough swagger to give this more substantive rock cred than the average Pollard solo effort.) Thanks to Nick Mitchell's efforts, Pollard's songs have a greater sense of individual personality on Of Course You Are, and the heartfelt pop of "Little Pigs" and "That's They Way You Gave It to Me," the bitter kiss-off of "Promo Brunette," and the mature, moody tone of "Come and Listen" are potent reminders that Pollard still has an absurdly high batting average as a tunesmith three decades on from Bee Thousand. Since Pollard has announced that Nick Mitchell will also be playing in his new incarnation of Guided by Voices, Of Course You Are suggests he's finally found a musical collaborator who does as much for his work as Doug Gillard did when he joined GbV for Mag Earwhig! ~ Mark Deming
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