September 18, 2003

The Repeat Button: "I Am A Scientist"

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The name rings true, as I find a Guided By Voices tune more often than not stuck in my head and leading me around campus. Making lo-fie indie rock for over 15 years, GBV founded the aesthetic to which they belong. A four track, guitar, bass, and drums were all founding member Robert Pollard needed to record timeless classics. With simplicity as their leading virtue, GBV took the most derivative ingredients of rock and transcended their limitations.

1994’s Bee Thousand garnered critical acclaim, eventually leading to their deal with Matador. Composed of 20 tracks, with the longest clocking in at 3 minutes, the album brought new meaning to the definition of concise songwriting. The fuzz-kissed melodies slide effortlessly by, so much so that the click of the tape recorder on the last track surprises you every time. The gritty production is offset by the expertly-crafted pop of straight sounding guitars and Pollard’s unmistakable, vocal affect.

“I Am A Scientist” opens with a single, picked guitar line that repeats its unchanging hook for the entire duration of the song, After 4 bars of guitar intro, a stripped-to-the-bone rock beat commences, and at 8 bars in, Pollard enters with a line that never gets old: “I am a scientist, I seek to understand me/ all of my impurities and evils yet unknown.” He goes on, “and I know what’s right/ but I’m losing sight/ of the clues for which I search and choose/