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Lifeguards is the duo of former Guided By Voices bandmates Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard. For many of you, that’s all you need to know before you rush to the record store. But fear not – Waving at the Astronauts offers plenty for those of us who don’t worship at the Pollard tootsies. Gillard provides the music, which is essentially a streamlined mix of power pop, new wave and arena rock – not far removed from what Pollard does on his own, though less fussy and better crafted. Pollard provides his usual elliptical lyrics and distinctive vocals, which are neither better nor worse than what he does in every other project he has a digit in. None of this is anything new for either of these guys, of course, but “Trip the Web,” “(Doing the) Math” and “Paradise is Not So Bad” feel sharper and more focused than usual, with a palpable energy and hooks practically exploding out of the grooves. Best of all is the strange, moody “What Am I?,” an off-kilter anthem that moves from enigmatic muttering to assertive frenzy with a verisimilitude that’s seems random, but, given Gillard’s discipline, most assuredly isn’t. Tight and tuneful, Waving at the Astronauts is one of Pollard’s best efforts in a while.
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