erasing clouds

Robert Pollard, Silverfish Trivia

by dave heaton

It's easy to get Bob Pollard fatigue sometimes, with how much music he releases. But this mini-album Silverfish Trivia, the first release from his label Prom Is Coming, is worthy of your utmost attention. It's concise, for one, and has a cohesive mood interesting enough to set it apart from the rest. A tone of wistfulness is set by the opening, pretty strings, and carries through within Pollard's songs: ballads and mid-tempo rockers with a tone of longing permeating the still surreal, eccentric songwriting. Who else would write a gorgeous, lingering ballad and call it "Circle Saw Boys Club", giving it oblique lyrics to match the title? "Wickerman Smile" follows, an acoustic confession with a semi-mystical tone. In the days of GBV, a whisper like this would lead into a crashing arena-rock anthem. Here, it's followed by a welcoming love letter ("Touched to Be Sure") that wanders into sweet psychedelic territory while keeping a light Who-like backbone which eventually rushes forward to the front. The more-or-less closing number (before another, weirder string interlude) is "Cats Love a Parade", a dramatic love ballad that turns weirder, almost into a threat. It's a lengthy song that switches character a few times, from sensitive to scary. It resembles a Valentine's Day love letter that starts out touching but gets borderline creepy as you read marked by the stalker/kidnapper tone of the line "I take you home / I love you baby / whatever you say."

On recent releases, even the best ones, Pollard has sounded too eager to inject his singing with the "oh yeah"/"rock and roll!" demeanor of his stage presence, even when it absolutely didn't fit. Here he avoids that completely, singing straight, in service of the songs. That fact, along with some especially rewarding melodies and a sensitive but strange demeanor, makes this an excellent reminder of the sublime creativity and songwriting skill that Pollard still possesses. It's a real treasure.


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