GBV's latest is a "let's get the band back together" album, featuring what's being marketed as the band's "classic" lineup (Pollard, Sprout, Mitchell, Fennell, Demos). This is the same crew that put out the band's (arguably) most-beloved trilogy of records: 1994's Bee Thousand, 1995's Alien Lanes and 1996's Under the Bushes Under the Stars.
As fans of those albums know, for all their love of the signifiers and aesthetics of 1960s and '70s-style garage rock, power pop and psychedelia, they've never really put out albums that fit those molds. That aforementioned trilogy of "classic" records works like a series of transmissions more than anything else, with snatches of melody drifting in and out, propulsive choruses suddenly fading away, and beatnik-ish rants muffled by static and drone popping up in odd places. Then there'd suddenly be "real" songs that would appear (like "Tractor Rape Chain" off Bee Thousand, or Alien Lanes' "Motor Away") and—remarkably for GBV—break the two-minute mark.
So how Alien Lanes-y is Let's Go Eat the Factory? Sort of, but not very. Though ... kind of. Some of the songs sound more polished and aestheticized than anything we ever heard during GBV's "classic" period—I am not feeling the strings on "Hang Mr. Kite."
But when LGETF sounds good, it sounds really good: when the bass takes over the last third of "Waves"; "Doughnut for a Snowman," which could be a lost track from Bee Thousand; and the wonderful "Chocolate Boy."