Celebrating forty years in 2023 with their thirty-eighth album, La La Land doubles down on the intricate proggy-pop displayed on Guided By Voices's last album, Tremblers And Goggles By Rank.
On a hot streak of critical acclaim, GVB's Robert Pollard continues expanding his songwriting towards extremes of prettiness, heaviness, and poeticism. As always, unforgettable hooks are everywhere. But with his latest, it seems Pollard is playing with the extremes of his abilities as a songwriter, emboldened by the power of this lineup now on their fourteenth album together since 2017.
The prettiest stuff is prettier than ever on "Queen Of Spaces" while odder, more complex songs like "Slowly On The Wheel" combine minimalism, whimsy, and cinematic inclinations. There are the exquisite power pop bangers that fans come to expect like "Ballroom Etiquette" and "Pockets." Tracks like "Instinct Dwelling" and "Caution Song" effortlessly display a cranked-up weight and complexity most bands could never muster.
La La Land is somewhat of a companion piece to Tremblers And Goggles By Rank and continues to explore a path of diversity in styles and in longer, more adventurous song structures.