It’s mind boggling to think that Lord of the Birdcage is Robert Pollard’s 17th solo release. Between his solo efforts, his Guided By Voices output and his myriad of side bands like the Boston Spaceships, it’s safe to assume that he’s almost always writing new songs — by the time you finish reading this review, he will probably have penned at least three. The amazing thing about Pollard’s output is how, despite the fact that he’s written so much material, he has managed to create an absolutely unique sound for himself that never seems to tire.
Lord of the Birdcage follows in much of the same style as Pollard’s previous efforts, featuring short bursts of British invasion-infused alternative rock coupled with somewhat surreal lyrics. For this release, Pollard decided to take already written poems and set them to music. The words seem actually quite suited to song, which might imply that Pollard knew all along what he intended to do with his writing, or that he simply has an inborn talent to channel songs out of almost any material.
I have no idea what an “Ash Ript Telecopter” is, but when Pollard’s belting it out to a catchy guitar riff I can’t help but sing along. “Smashed Middle Finger” takes what sounds like a silly premise about a hand injury and builds it up into an epic chorus that completely puts the song over the top. The best part about Pollard’s writing style is that he flits between upbeat rockers to drawn out slow jams on a whim, ensuring something for everybody while covering a range of emotions all infused with a whimsical pop sensibility.
In the end, Lord of the Birdcage is simply another monument to a prodigious musician’s career. It provides you with everything you’d want out of a Robert Pollard release: charming nostalgia, the bizarre lyrical voice and Pollard’s unshakable feeling of youthfulness and enthusiasm. As long as he continues to write songs at this level, I wouldn’t mind if he put out a new album every month — and don’t think he won’t.