Determined as ever to retain his reputation as the most prolific man in indie rock, in 1999 Robert Pollard launched his ongoing series of Fading Captain record releases (most issued through his own Rockathon label), which gave him a platform for his many side projects outside Guided by Voices as well as material considered too esoteric for his "real" albums. The Fading Captain series eventually accumulated 48 releases before Pollard opted to pull the plug in 2007 (three years after Pollard dissolved GBV to launch a solo career), with the anthology Crickets drawing the serial to a close. Crickets is a two-CD set that collects 50 tunes from the various Fading Captain singles, EPs, and albums, along with six unreleased tracks, so even completists will feel compelled to pick this up. Since product overkill is a way of life for Pollard, Crickets would seemingly be welcome as a way of gleaning the high points from a large pool of fairly obscure work, but one thing that becomes clear to anyone familiar with Pollard's music is that he was shrewd enough to save his best songs for his higher-profile albums, and though there are some excellent pop songs present and nothing here slips below a respectable B-minus, a lot of this stuff sounds awfully similar after a while. Since Pollard also used the Fading Captain releases as a forum for his more off-kilter work, plenty of songs here revel in their own eccentricities -- sound effects, droning guitars, sloppiness even by GBV standards -- and though some of them display a certain charm, more often the extraneous stuff just takes the focus away from the melodies that make Pollard's best work memorable. And while Pollard's top-shelf music rocks hard, too much of Crickets simply meanders. The Fading Captain releases were records intended for hardcore Robert Pollard fans, and Crickets doesn't do much to convince more casual observers that there's buried treasure here to be found in them, since this lacks the cohesion and charge of even the lesser GBV albums.