In 2004, the apotheosis of Robert Pollard finally happened. Now that
the “classic” Guided By Voices lineup is readying itself for a reunion tour, critics, fans, bloggers everywhere will no doubt by thrown into fits of religious ecstasy, gushing endlessly about visions of the afterlife during performances of “I Am a Scientist”. It is baffling that Bee Thousand (1994), which contains merely one song (out of a staggering 20) that clocks in at over three minutes, has been able to transfix the indie community for 16 years.
What is equally baffling is the way that “lo-fi”—as aesthetic, as ethic, as style—continues to be constructed as the absolute mark of musical authenticity. Even though GBV are widely considered to be the lo-fi alpha and omega, that has not stopped the praise from being piled on contemporary bands as diverse as Wavves, A Place to Bury Strangers, LCD Soundsystem, Times New Viking, and Girls for working, essentially, in accordance with Pollard’s Commandments. All of which raises the question: how can lo-fi be authentic if it is clearly an appropriation of someone else’s aesthetic?