Half Smiles of the Decomposed

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.