Isolation Drills

Guided By Voices have never quite risen above schoolteacher-turned-singer Robert Pollard's richly mythologized culthood. But Isolation Drills makes the case more persuasively than ever that these indie-pop godfathers should matter to more than just the loyalists. The latest hired-gun producer, Rob Schnapf (who's worked with Foo Fighters, Beck and Elliott Smith), finds the balance between frazzled serendipity and melodic luster that has long eluded GBV —resist the gloriously exuberant "Glad Girls" at your peril. Instead of basking in quirks and obtuse wordplay, Pollard digs behind the savant-slacker facade to find the misfit marinated in alcohol (the devastated "How's My Drinking?"); the seeker who finally finds what he's been looking for (the luminous folk-rock hymn "Twilight Campfighter"); the estranged lover who can't let go of the past ("The Brides Have Hit Glass"). Once slapdash with his talents, Pollard now turns even a ninety-nine-second fragment like "Sister I Need Wine" into a fully finished haiku of autumnal longing.