NPR Song Of The Day: Robert Pollard, ‘Supernatural Car Lover’

Robert Pollard's Normal Happiness is out now.
Robert Pollard’s Normal Happiness is out now.

As an aspiring music critic and musician, I have been hard at work sending out a pitch here and there to get my name and fame. Well I can now say I have something published, in the form of NPR’s Song of the Day, the daily music feature on NPR’s website. Hopefully there will be more to come so I can be universally loved and admired by dozens. Read the piece here.

Standing Out in A Cast of Thousands

“Supernatural Car Lover” by Robert Pollard from Normal Happiness

Shoehorning 16 songs into only 35 minutes, Robert Pollard’s new solo album Normal Happiness serves as yet another exercise in brevity for the notoriously prolific songwriter. Pollard and his former band Guided by Voices have long been known for their primitive post-punk experimentation and British Invasion-era pop hooks, so it’s only natural for him to mine that territory yet again.

Though “Supernatural Car Lover” functions as the album’s most developed track, it’s also an ideal Pollard case study: Just as the song unveils its summery power-pop melody, it seems to end as quickly as it began. If it feels mildly underdeveloped, that’s likely a conscious move on Pollard’s part to revisit an era when pop songs wasted little time. From the cleanly energetic, guitar-driven vamps to his laconic lyrics, Pollard doesn’t waste a note, flexing his Elvis Costello-esque swagger with apparent ease as he sings, “Your game, you choose / God gave you the freedom to move / But it occurs to me that you might be lying about that, too.”

Pollard’s endless prolificacy can be frustrating: Technically his ninth solo album, Normal Happiness at times plays out like a sketchpad of songs. And while some, like “Supernatural Car Lover,” sound fully focused, others are unrealized nuggets in need of some nurturing. In both cases, there’s an innate immediacy that makes them a compelling snapshot of a frustrating but endlessly rewarding genius.