The makers of those refrigerator poetry kits should commission Robert Pollard to scribe an edition. Or Mad Libs. In fact, when I have kids, I’m going to just give them a transcription of the Guided By Voices catalogue and a record player and let ’em have it – here you are, wee ones, this is English, dance the ‘kicker of elves‘ dance.

Pollard and the “classic” GBV crew don’t hold back the kook on their 20th effort, English Little Leaguehere. “Crybaby 4-Star Hotel,” “Biographer Seahorse,” “Sir Garlic Breath,” – these are the titles of familiar, throw-away two-minute-ish lo-fi adventures surface deep. Swim with the “Flunky Minnows” into deeper waters and this is the kind of non-sequitur poetry you’ll have the privilege of deciphering: [LISTEN]

Saw the rapture in its palms
He tried to feed you flunky charms
But then we owe you a lot
You really know us very well
We love you, everything is wonderful
And microscopes are fun

The trade-off is that, well, many of English Little League‘s 17 tracks are throw-away two-minute-ish lo-fi jams that almost make a fool of the one trying to decipher them, strewn together from a wily former school teacher who now has his own home studio to crank this stuff out ad nauseam. GBV cut three records in 2012. Counting singles and EPs, there’s virtually no escaping a calendar month without a release.

Let’s be clear here – by no means are we saying prolificacy should be met with a less receptive ear. Nor are we saying two-minute, 4-track, warbly cuts are inferior to some of the three-minute, 16-track cuts GBV pump out. But let’s just put it this way: the “Kicker of Elves” moments on English Little League are a rarity. Take the bludgeoned piano build on “Reflections in a Metal Whistle,” not an easy jam to coddle, even with its well-seasoned Pollard word cloud:

Charlie had his chance
Friction in Japan
Running with Teddy R
On Motown night

When distilled, the rabbit holes get more special, per usual GBV standard, though, showing colors of their planky, Big Star power pop shades, in which you can catch a glimpse of just what the hell said rabbit holes were dug for. There’s a moment on “The Sudden Death of Epstein’s Ways” that perfectly combines the magnetic poetry thread with that grainy sing-song hook any GBV fan knows the pleasure of discovering. It’s just a shame it stands largely alone:

From kingpin to butterfly
He says he’s dancing with Jesus