A classic Pollard-Sprout collaboration Credit: David Newgarden

The Guided by Voices camp is never a quiet one. About a month ago, GBV mastermind Robert Pollard announced the release of a brand-new solo LP, and shortly thereafter said he’d be pulling the band out of retirement (he’d put it on ice in 2014) for a new record and some live dates, including an appearance at Calgary’s Sled Island Festival. The one problem is that this isn’t going to be the Guided by Voices we all know and love: the new record will be performed entirely by Pollard, and the touring lineup includes no members from any of the band’s classic incarnations. Pollard can make pretty much everything he touches sound great, so I’m sure the record will be just that, but Guided by Voices never quite feels right without Tobin Sprout, the ying to Pollard’s yang. The two complemented each other perfectly to create the classic GBV sound: Pollard brought the damaged, noisy skeletons to the table, and Sprout fleshed them out with his pop genius. And when the two work separately, their solo records veer in opposite directions. 

We know what Pollard is up to these days, but where’s Sprout? Well, he’s got some new music out too. The B side to his brand-new seven-inch, “When I Was a Boy,” is today’s 12 O’Clock Track.

“When I Was Boy” is a beautiful, lo-fi, miniature piano ballad, brimming with signature Sprout hooks and fractured, fragile vocals. There’s a bit of schmaltz and sap too, but that’s part of what makes Sprout’s songs stand out. It’s become clear that Pollard and Sprout will never stop creating, and it doesn’t matter if they’re making music together or separately—it’ll always be good.