Merge Records
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Anyone who’s followed Bob Pollard’s career from Guided by Voices up through “Normal Happiness,” his second Merge Records release, knows that the man can write a mean pop-rocker. With a GBV release, one always had to wade through a plethora of gorgeously half-baked ideas to get to the true gems. It took an album like “Normal Happiness” to help me appreciate the fact that all those seemingly tossed-off tracks were imperative to the appreciation of the album as a whole and to the revelatory nature of said gems. Basically, “Normal Happiness” is the first Pollard endeavor that fits perfectly into your iPod Shuffle. Every song is interesting and self-contained, if not particularly risky or innovative. It functions not so much as an album, but as a nice collection of individually rocking two-minute blasts. Recommended for your next mix: “Rhoda Rhoda” (which I’ve had on repeat for a couple of weeks now).