Ever since Guided By Voices became the toasts of indie rock with their masterwork, Bee Thousand, in 1994, frontman Robert Pollard has been replicating that album's short-songs, cruddy-production formula to the point that his songwriting quirks have curdled into mannered cliches. Perhaps sensing that even his loyalists have grown tired of everything coming out half-baked and low-fi, Pollard has created an album of fully formed compositions produced in pristine digital sound by former Cars leader Ric Ocasek. It's all a bit startling at first — like hearing the band with 3-D glasses on — but Ocasek's polished power boost serves GBV well. The arena-rock riffs on "Teenage FBI" and "In Stitches" leap out at you, and the weepy strings on "Hold On Hope" and "Dragons Awake" work in a Forever Changes kind of way. Longtime fans may bristle at GBV's new slick tricks, but Do the Collapse is hardly a concession to commercialism. Rather, it sounds like the GBV record that unreconstructed classic-rock fan Pollard has always wanted to make: his very own Who Are You.
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