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Tobin Sprout was both blessed and cursed to worm his way into Guided by Voices. Once in the band, Sprout was never able to shake playing George Harrison to Robert Pollard’s Lennon/McCartney. The role had its perks, though mainly in the recording studio: His “You’re Not an Airplane” provided a perfect coda to Bee Thousand, GbV’s high-water mark. But Sprout, who gave up a gig fronting a Dayton band to sign on as Pollard’s second fiddle, has been grumbling for a while now about the lack of time he spent front and center during GbV’s live shows. Sprout’s songs made up such a small part of a typical GbV set that fans figured he must be afflicted by stage fright; the truth is that Pollard just wasn’t throwing Sprout tunes onto the set list. The inevitable parting has taken place, and with his first solo run, Carnival Boy, Sprout makes an incredibly strong statement about how he could have handled a much greater workload in his by-all-accounts-former band if only Pollard had sanctioned it. It also appears that Sprout, much like Harrison, gleaned a thing or two about songwriting from a much more charismatic sidekick. The very same warble that made “You’re Not an Airplane” and pretty much all Sprout’s GbV offerings compelling is all over Carnival Boy, and he even flaunts a facility with power pop—”The Natural Alarm,” “To My Beloved Martha,” “The Last Man Well Known to Kingpin”—that echoes Pollard’s. Extending the olive branch to those GbV fans who will inevitably blame him for the band’s apparent breakup, Sprout douses “Martin’s Mounted Head” with tape hiss galore, and even throws in a rockier remix of “It’s Like Soul Man,” one of the few cuts he got on GbV’s Under the Bushes Under the Stars. If success is the best revenge, vengeance is Sprout’s with Carnival Boy. No disrespect to Pollard, but Harrison had the best solo career. —Dave McKenna