Ricked Wicky: I Sell the Circus

I don’t know what it was about this album that hit me wrong. It’s not bad, I’d say aggressively mediocre is more of an accurate description. Perhaps that’s one of the problems of the prolific songwriter Robert Pollard. When one write a lot one tends to come up with some gems, but also quite a bit of detritus as a side product of the artistic proliferation. And this 15 song album has quite a bit of detritus.

The album kicks off with “Well Suited,” a rather forgettable song with some bog standard 90’s college-radio guitar riffs and Pollard’s rather equally forgettable lyrics. “Death Metal Kid” starts off somewhat interestingly with a heavy muted guitar riff and mechanical drumming in an imitation of Queens of the Stone Age from 2002, except sans the tongue in cheek vocal gravitas of Josh Homme. “Death Metal Kid” thankfully fades into oblivion at the 2:10 mark after a half-hearted guitar solo, which is maybe the best you could say about the song. “Guts” is an extremely relevant and groundbreaking song… if it had been made in 1988. “Guts” is sort of an early R.E.M. crossed with Pixies vibe, but with little direction and meanders around for several minutes before petering out just past the two minute mark.

Continuing with the theme of lifting classic artists signature sounds, Pollard next attempts to emulate Sgt. Peppers with “Cow Headed Man.” “Cow Headed Man” has lyrics as comprehensible as the title suggests and quickly loses what nostalgic charm it began with. “Piss Face” has a certain lyrical and musical quality that brings back many memories, namely sitting in a friend’s parent’s garage listening to a band of fifteen year olds who would name a song “Piss Face” as an ode to a homeroom rival. “Even Today and Tomorrow” is perhaps one of the better songs on the album (for what it’s worth), it’s a competent acoustic fair that can’t attract much commentary positive or negative. Tomorrow is similar in that it is fine, not much to say about it. It’s an acoustic instrumental that is properly executed. “Rotten Backboards” is another song worthy of comment in that Pollard jumps back on the R.E.M. bandwagon for one last hurrah of artistic appropriation.

One thing that can be said of the album is that its songs are mercifully short, however the fifteen track long length takes even that away from the album’s credit. Generally I try to give people’s music if they are actually trying. Even if I don’t get the music, I will try to find the positives and just say it wasn’t really for me. This album seems to be a case of an established artist choosing to churn out a mediocre album just for the sake of churning out an album. If you do not wish to leave your comfort zone of genres that have already been tread and re-tread for decades, are scared of music from after 2002, and have a strong desire to support an established pro in the industry then I can strongly recommend this album to you. Otherwise Pollard should take the respectable career path and stick to making acoustic versions of his songs from his Guided by Voices days.

Rating: 4.0/10
Buy: iTunes

1 Comment

  • Eric The Redhearted says:

    Hate to say it, because I’m a huge GBV/Bob/Boston Spaceships etc. fan, but this is one of his weakest incarnations. There aren’t any real standout tracks. How do you know it’s not great? The fanboys at Disarm the Settlers aren’t even raving about it.

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