If there is a surprise on this record, it's that Salamander is quite a departure from the manic British Invasion-fueled power pop of GBV. Gillard instead opts for a more introspective, orchestrated affair that rekindles the ghosts of such baroque-pop legends as the Zombies and the Left Banke, as well as bringing to mind the excellent works of modern fellow travelers such as Eric Matthews and Brent Arnold and the Spheres. In addition to being a first-rate vocalist -- the melodies here are often spellbinding -- Gillard is quite the multi-instrumentalist, playing virtually everything on this album, including guitar, drums, bass, piano, and percussion. Guided by Voices is now in the middle of its farewell tour, but here's to new beginnings. Salamander is a hell of a start.