The demise of Guided By Voices (R.I.P. boys, sniff sniff) does not seem to be getting Robert Pollard down at all. Still pumping out albums and art projects in the aftermath, at a pace that would dizzy lesser musicians, he also remains sonically upbeat about the whole thing with this effort. Normal Happiness, setting aside my obvious bias for his output, is definitely a worthy entry into the vast well that is the Pollard catalog. As always, the songs are short, sweet blasts of inimitable brilliance that still, in keeping with his long-standing modus operandi, sound like they could conceivably fall crazily to pieces at any moment. The listener is pulled along from song to song, barely able to digest the last confection before being assaulted (in a friendly way) by the next one.
There are some signs of growth, here, too. On “Give Up The Grape,” he muses that perhaps all his years of legendary hard drinking are finally taking their toll, and that he “…maybe should define some lines that I cannot cross.” There are other places on the record, amidst the seemingly nonsensical babble (which I call poetry) that usually comprises his lyrics, wherein he strongly alludes to boundaries and the reasons for them. Interesting, positive, and yet further proof that Robert Pollard will never do what you expect, will always twist the opposite way and be proven right, time and again. You really should just have trusted him in the first place.
Albums like Normal Happiness stand as incontrovertible proof of the fact that, so long as he remains in love with the process, Robert Pollard, with every brilliant move he makes, will continue to be the most interesting musician in America.