Robert Pollard: Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department

Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Dept.

Whoa, did Pollard actually use a professional studio for this one? There has been a general trend towards cleaner production with each of his solo efforts, and this, his fourth, sounds, dare I say, almost professional. It’s not like the guy has gone all Radiohead on us or anything, but it’s nice to actually be able to hear the bass in his tracks for once. Of course with the fuller sound comes some loss of intimacy, but this is a guy who’s always wanted to be Roger Daltrey (with the leg kicks and everything) so there was no way he’d shy away from the stadium sound forever. Again, I can’t imagine any of these songs being played for a packed Wembley Stadium or anything, but even baby steps for this geezer is an amazing act of contrition to a lifelong fuzzmaster. One does wonder at this point how he chooses what goes on the GBV albums versus what gets the solo tag. Of course the parallel GBV album at this time was Do the Collapse, which was produced by Ric Ocasek (complete with his keyboards and shit), so it’s not like this record sounds even close to as polished as that one. I think this, however, was where I started to wonder when the hell he was going to stop pumping out these albums. My patience for spending money was wearing thin.