The eponymous title track of Guided by Voices’ latest album (the second of three sets to be released this year), “Class Clown Spots a UFO,” is instantly memorable, opening with a playful riff as catchy as anything Robert Pollard has ever written. The song’s main hook is a cheesy (in the best sense of the word), with a carnivalesque keyboard and guitar line that emerges from the mix periodically to hammer itself into your brain.
Crunchy power chords emphatically puncuate Pollard’s lyrics throughout the latter half of each verse. Together with the syncopated handclaps that crop up in the bridge, these elements call to mind the Cars or some other classic new wave band.
“Class Clowns’” lyrics have seemingly little to do with its title, but Pollard’s words ring with a faintly melancholy tinge, suggesting that the songwriter is channeling Pierrot (you know, the sad clown), as much as Gonzo.
The track mostly adheres to a basic pop structure, the one surprise being a sudden, brief a capella rendition from Pollard that quickly erupts into a beautifully-harmonized outro that will leave you with a sweet taste in your mouth.