Since the early Eighties, more than twenty musicians have been Guided By Voices. The brainchild of Robert Pollard, GBV has still managed to pull off a cohesive string of records, consistently forcing a Siddhartha six-handed bitchslap of sound to fit into a fistful of recording space. With Universal Truths & Cycles, GBV returns to the super-stripped power displayed on the 1996 Under the Bushes Under the Stars, proving that these guys still write songs that match R.E.M.'s Life's Rich Pageant in both tune and technology. GBV brings you inside the sound with the squeaky exhale of guitar strings between chords on "Factory of Raw Essentials" and a collective studio yuck on "Skin Parade." Pollard's voice is clear and crisply enunciated, like a cross-legged storyteller, while Doug Gillard, the prexy of indie guitar, gives seemingly awkward melodies wings. With treble-heavy thunder ("Back to the Lake," "Cheyenne") and blurts of Renaissance ("The Ids Are Allright"), Universal Truths& Cycles sprouts from the seeds GBV planted way back when, even more firmly pounding the stake in the group's claim to be most influential band on four tracks.