Half Smiles of the Decomposed

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Half Smiles of the Decomposed is reportedly the final Guided by Voices studio album, and like many of the band's best, it's packed to bursting with sometimes inscrutable pleasures: melodies with the whiff of half-remembered classics, misbegotten home-taping experiments, arrangements that appear to collapse before resolving in brave choruses and, in "Window of My World," the baroque folkie musings of a psychedelic jester. With lyrics that sometimes veer into gibberish ("Fit me into your thimble/I'll be your comeback trail") delivered in a fake English accent, GBV guiding light Robert Pollard sometimes sounds like a prog-rock throwback. But he's less of a word splicer than he is a general mischief-maker, a fabulist who sees songs as brightly painted reality-distortion knobs. So long, for now.