One school of thought regarding Guided By Voices considers the band in their element with a four-track, turning out impressionist albums of fragmented, mini-pop songs. The other claims that they’re a great pop band that has never made a great pop album because of their adherence to the four-track. Maybe frontman Robert Pollard is among the latter camp, since Do the Collapse is their first effort recorded in a full-fledged studio with a real producer, namely Ric Ocasek. Of course, the jump to professionalism could have happened simply because there was nowhere left to go; their amateurish, homemade guitar pop had become entirely too predictable, and hiring Cobra Verde as a backing band on Mag Earwhig! didn’t really change things — it was time for a shot at the big time. As a matter of fact, Do the Collapse was even designed as their major-label debut, but the label passed on their option after hearing the finished result, so GBV headed over for TVT. It’s hard to blame the major label, actually, because Do the Collapse simply doesn’t work. It’s not that Ocasek’s production is inappropriate, or that the expanded song lengths feel wrong, it’s that Pollard is stuck in a rut. His songs follow familiar patterns, and now that there have been so many of them, it’s hard not to feel like they’re all tossed off to a certain extent. No hooks gain hold, the imagery feels silly, and there’s no excitement or energy to the band’s performances, resulting in exactly what any fan would fear from a GBV major-label release — a puffed-up, overblown version of Alien Lanes. It’s clear that’s not what Pollard or Ocasek wanted, but the band’s strengths have deteriorated so much, that’s the only thing they were capable of cutting.