While the buzz that came with Guided By Voices’ breakthrough album, Bee Thousand was still strong they released their follow-up Alien Lanes in 1995. Even though this album sounds slightly more polished at times it follows the same style of its predecessor with short fast Classic Rock-influenced songs.
Alien Lanes featured the classic lineup of Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Jim Pollard, Mitch Mitchell, and Kevin Fennell.
At 28 songs in 40 minutes, this album is an onslaught. “A Salty Salute” opens the album with a crunchy bassline and ends with the announcement “The Club is Open.”
Some tracks on the album are reminiscent of the sound of its predecessor, Bee Thousand while others sound more produced and slick. “Game of Pricks” comes off sounding almost like a Beatles cover. As is the case with a lot of the tracks on Alien Lanes, you can really hear the Classic Rock influences, they are just expressed as lo-fi Indie Rock.
Big earworms such as “The Closer You Are,” “My Valuable Hunting Knife,” and “Blimps Go 90” stay with you and show the diversity in Robert Pollard’s songwriting.
The only time (thus far) that I have seen Guided By Voices live was the Bee Thousand Tour in 1995 and during the show, Robert Pollard announced the group’s new album (Alien Lanes) was being released the following month. He also said the next album (Under the Bushes, Under the Stars) was already in the can. This is the kind of pace they have returned to recently, having released four or five albums in the last year or so with a new one (It’s Not Them, It Couldn’t Be Them, It Is Them) on the way later in 2021.
Despite being released over 25 years ago, Alien Lanes still holds up well and is considered a classic not only in the GBV canon but also in Rock history in general. It is often included in best of all time lists and deservedly so.
Check out the video below to see the 25th-anniversary pressing video I put regarding the vinyl pressing of Alien Lanes.
Dig this article? Check out the full archives of Surface Noise, by John Siden, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/surface-noise-archives/