Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices is notably not a fan of the Internet, a sentiment he turns into power-pop perfection on “Electronic Windows to Nowhere,” off the band’s third album of 2020, Styles We Paid For. The record was even initially going to be titled Before Computers — until Pollard chose something more fittingly oblique.
The track starts off driving and steady, chugging forward with a deliciously tight four-four beat from drummer Kevin March. Then Pollard comes in with his Anglophilic, derision-drenched vocals to tell the tale of “Seamus and Gladys” plugging themselves into “artificial intelligence” and immediately getting off on “multi-level presidents.” Sound familiar? There’s even a lyric about digging “parties for their hair.” This is about as close as you’re going to get to an anti-Trump song from Pollard, and we wouldn’t even put all our chips down on that particular table. That’s the joy of GBV — the words go where they will. Who are Seamus and Gladys? Only Bob knows.
The tension builds until we hit the chorus, a winding vocal line by Pollard deeming the Internet “electronic windows to nowhere.” It all culminates in a crisp, impossibly catchy guitar solo by Doug Gillard. The song is over in less than two minutes, a respite from the universal doomscroll, a breezy takedown of the relentlessly buzzing hivemind that somehow sounds like Eighties computer software made sentient.