On the fourth try, Pollard lets fly a solo LP as engaging throughout as his most developed, consistent Guided by Voices ones. Infinitely better than Waved Out and Kid Marine (both somewhat saved by a minority of killer tracks), and with as many high points as the typically big-hit-and-lots-of-miss-mess of Not in My Airforce, Speak Kindly starts with the gentle hum-along bang of "Frequent Weaver Who Burns" and never crests. Wonderful! Maybe it's Gillard's influence, Pollard's main ally since the lamentable demise of the classic GBV lineup. But between this and Do the Collapse, the prolific Pollard is extinguishing the perception that burn-out has rotted his touch along with his quality control. Tired of fragments that don't add up to songs? Perhaps Pollard hears you, for there's none hiding here behind the usual bizarre titles. In fact, though one would expect these 15 tracks to be the leftovers, like Grapefruit Leaguers that didn't make the big league cut of Collapse, it's actually a shame these won't be given the wider audience a GBV moniker provides. There's been such a barrage of Pollard material, the patience and tingle of most indie fans has been stricken with indigestion. The peril, then, is that most will be unaware of what a crisp LP he's made -- what a tenacious, unusual work it is even for him, with fresh tricks and licks, not half-hearted throwaways that imprison the odd full-fledged treat. Moreover, for those who liked the tunes of Collapse, but were hesitant over Ric Ocasek's strong but slicker production, Speak Gently is a more spontaneous, organic, combustive, non-lo-fi, great-sounding work. Pollard is back with a bang. Having lulled us all to sleep, we might not notice.