TOBIN SPROUT Moonflower Plastic (Welcome To My Wigwam) (Matador)

"Moonflower Plastic" is the, by my reckoning, second solo album by the former 50% stakeholder in the frazzled genius that continues to be Guided By Voices, and on the evidence assembled here it’s easy to see why GBV wasn’t a big enough band for both Messrs Sprout and Pollard. Playing guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ, Casio and tambourine Sprout seems to have overdubbed his way into what could best be described as underground AOR.

For some reason his solo material reminds me of a bizarre alliance between early Elton John, the late Chris Bell (once of Big Star) and Shady (the solo project of former Mercury Rev mouth David Baker). There’s Elton’s approach to clean cut balladry, the rough shambly feel of Bell’s posthumously released "I Am The Cosmos" collection (much of "Moonflower Plastic" was taped on primitive basement-dwelling 4- and 8-track machinery) and lots of Rev-type weirdness in song titles such as "Get Out Of My Throat" and "Angels Hang Their Socks On The Moon".

Given that Sprout’s contributions to GBV albums were frequently among the more tuneful tracks contained therein, his departure from that outfit has left Robert Pollard free to freefall towards chaotic occasional brilliance. Toby, meanwhile, has produced a workmanlike collection of interesting songs that speak to a laughably small demographic (i.e. GBV fans). For that we should wish him luck, and offer our respect.

Guided By Voices