Unlike so many bands who have either carefully copied or mindlessly aped their British Invasion heroes, Dayton, Ohio's Guided by Voices has always followed the spirit rather than the letter of that mu

Unlike so many bands who have either carefully copied or mindlessly aped their British Invasion heroes, Dayton, Ohio's Guided by Voices has always followed the spirit rather than the letter of that musical law. GBV leader Robert Pollard churns out a couple of albums' worth of impossibly melodic, bittersweet power-pop every annum. This year's model is both sonically and emotionally the most up-to-date yet. Pollard's lyrics often ache now with the pain and wisdom of middle age, although his latest outfit can rock with the sound of evergreen youth. With widescreen tracks like "Fair Touching," producer Rob Schnapf ups the ante on Ric Ocasek's radio-ready work for GBV's 1999 TVT opus, Do the Collapse. On the flipside, the dirge "How's My Drinking?" sees Pollard trading his usual lyrical abstraction for bracing reality. On Isolation Drills, Pollard proves that thinking like a grown-up and rocking like a teenager aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.—BB