Guided by voices… and glockenspiels
Brooklyn’s Bottom of the Hudson is guided by even more voices. Sure, it has Robert Pollard’s melodic jangle pop, lo-fi hiss and inscrutable lyrics down to a weird science, and on songs like “Perfect Distillation” and “Suffering Time” it offers perfectly compelling updates of the signature GBV sound. But lead singer/songwriter Eli Simon is being led down his own eclectic path. The title track mixes contrapuntal vocals and Beach Boys harmonies with handclaps, glockenspiel and clarinet, venturing headlong into unexplored territory. And album closer “Calculating Wire” is the kind of droning, hypnotic folk that recalls José Gonzalez and Iron & Wine while offering hints of the timeless traditional folk music of the British Isles. There are a couple too many songs that stroll down the well-trod ’90s indie Pavement, particularly toward the album’s end, but Fantastic Hawk is still an accurate title. There are moments when this album is amazing, and when it soars.