100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #34

Guided By Voices – Alien Lanes

Guided By Voices mean a great deal to very few. Their short, snappy running times, abrupt endings and their fondness for tape recorders that sound cheaper than a class C potato all made sure they were immune to the mainstream. On the other hand, the songs themselves are so good that they have garnered one of the most devoted cult followings in underground music. Only six out of twenty-eight songs on ‘Alien Lanes’ stretch past the 2-minute mark, but far from being too brief, these lengths suit GBV wonderfully. After a couple of listens it all seems to hang together and becomes addictive to the point that you’re learning every nonsensical lyric, fuzzy guitar riff and makeshift surprise it has to offer. It’s hard to listen to individual songs without playing it all the way through; the whole thing moves so fast and even when there’s a bit you don’t like, it won’t be round for long. Besides, I’ve listened to this so much that the low-points grow on you. The GBV sound is like British invasion pop, DIY psychedelica, and (genuinely) alternative rock. Who knows, if these were recorded in the studio ‘Alien Lanes’ could have been a commercial success. It’s an absolute treasure trove of great songs that lie somewhere between being slapdash and hard labours of love.
Listen to: Game Of Pricks


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