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Guided By Voices: Cool Planet

Dizzyingly eclectic left-field pop on album number 20.

Having attempted to go 'pro' in the latter half of their original incarnation – using proper rock producers, and writing a regular album of three-minute indie-pop songs – the re-formed GBV have reverted to the formula that made them a left-field grunge pop cult through the 80s and 90s: knocking out lo-fi albums packed with surrealist, widely varied half-songs rarely lasting more than 90 seconds, like the hipster They Might Be Giants.

Eighteen-tracker Cool Planet – their sixth album in four years and 20th in total – sounds as half-baked and hare-brained as usual, taking in melodic snippets of desert rock (The Bone Church), clattering Sebadoh grunge (Males Of Wormwood Mars, Hat Of Flames), ethereal piano balladry (Narrated By Paul), hippy folk (Ticket To Hide), Beatledelica (Psychotic Crush) and – no, really – drunk glam lemurs (Authoritarian Zoo).

Memorable moments flit briefly by, but the consistent magic of their mid-90s peak on Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes remains elusive. Cool Planet is a messy indie sprawl for the patient faithful.

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle (opens in new tab).