Some things about Bob Pollard never change: His songs are still shortÖ most under two and a half minutes, his lyrics joyfully random and his crazy voice is still slightly off key.
That being said, the greatness of some of his Guided By Voices albums like Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand and some of his solo works like From a Compound Eye, isnít as apparent, or maybe not even there, in his new offering Normal Happiness.†
Normal Happiness has none of the lo-fi fuzzies that are traditional trademarks of his sound. Itís cleaner, more to the point. More impactful, though with slightly less punch. I donít want to say itÖ and Iím fighting itÖ. but I think Bob is getting old. This album has a lot of great songs. Great because they are structurally strong and impactful and musically interesting Ė but not because you want to pump your fist for Bob Pollard and his mighty anthems. Normal Happiness is a different animal all together, but then somehow very similar to everything heís ever done.††
Bob is like a prophet, a sage. Sometimes he makes us want to get his face tattooed on our bicep. Sometimes he amazes us with his endurance in touring and prolific album writing. Sometimes he shocks us by the amount of beer he can drink in a single show and still be stomping around like a 20 year old on a mission. But one thing Bob never does is disappoint.†
This album is not a Guided By Voices album and itís not your typical Robert Pollard album. Itís essentially a pop album. A pop album with† razor-edged lyricism and a more sincere direction. It takes a few listens if youíre an old school Pollard fan, but I like Normal HappinessÖ. And that doesnít surprise me one bit at all.
– Shrie Bradford