The third release by Guided By Voices this year, The Bears For Lunch is the best of the bunch. Whilst some may feel that the band may have benefited from a single release pulling together all the best tracks from each album, their tactics this year has entertained tremendously, and the feeling of a culmination of themes and sounds makes this latest offering stand on the shoulders of the previous two.

Musically, this is standard fare now from the band since their reunion album earlier this year. However, whereas I would previously have described Let's Go Eat The Factory as various cuttings from a recording studio floor, The Bears For Lunch definitely does not feel like this. It still feels a little piecemeal in places, but overall the songs themselves hold well. A nod of a tribute to their roots, with enough variety to keep everything sounding fresh. And what variety. From 'The Corners are Glowing', with it's melodic vocal harmonies, and hint of building tension throughout, to 'Have a Jug', which crosses a childhood lullaby with a marching guitar line; there is truly a lot on offer here. 'Waving at Airplanes' evokes Guided By Voices at their best, with repetitive choruses, stripped back song structure, and, more than anything, fun. There's a lot to like here; 'White Flag' is a meandering romp, beautifully composed, 'She Lives in an Airport' grows and builds throughout its sub-three-minute duration into something verging on the borders of an anthem, and, in all truth, there are a lot of quick breezy tracks that do their job well.

For better or worse, these past three albums haven't been for new fans, these have been for fans of Guided By Voices in their heyday. The Bears For Lunch is most comparable to their 1996 albumUnder The Bushes Under The Stars, mainly because this album was the band deciding to evolve beyond their regular four-track recording setup, and into something a bit bigger and more clearly defined. Under The Bushes Under The Stars was the last album before 2012's comeback for the original lineup of Guided By Voices, and the real hope here is that The Bears For Lunch isn't the last we'll see of the band. No matter what they continue to do, 2012 has been the year where Guided By Voices start to show the rest of the world what fun you can have making music, without having to succumb to any pressures, or pretences, about what you should be doing at all.