Amid a classic GBV lineup reunion, Robert Pollard’s recent well-received solo album Lord Of The Birdcage, and the justified suspicion about Uncle Bob’s side projects, Boston Spaceships has had a difficult time selling itself as the rightful heir to Guided By Voices. That certainly isn’t the fault of the group’s albums. Let It Beard continues Boston Spaceships’ winning streak, but more than that, it’s a surprisingly cohesive, consistent double LP from a songwriter not known for cohesion or consistency. Let It Beard’s 26 songs shoot a bleary-eyed glance at GBV’s past with snatches of four-track caterwauling, even as they hurtle into previously unexplored territory like “Chevy Marigold,” with its soulful backing vocals.
Guest singer Tahoe Jackson isn't the only one adding dimension to the band’s worn-in but still vigorous pop. J. Mascis drops by on “Tourist U.F.O.” to lay down a solo just before the song drops off a cliff, and Wire’s Colin Newman contributes some low-end fuzz to “You Just Can’t Tell.” True to other Spaceships records, the band is mostly in uptempo rocker mode here. But the addition of strings and horns, and the tectonic shifts of songs like “Blind 20-20” and the title track keep these 70-plus minutes engaging. Along with 2006’s From A Compound Eye, this makes two ambitious double albums from Pollard’s post-GBV career that completely justify their lengths. Not bad for a guy with a less-than-sterling record on quality control.