I've said it once, and I'll say it again, Hold On Hope is my favorite Guided By Voices' EP. Take the over-production away from Do The Collapse, and what you have left over is a more true to GBV sound, and an overall better product. I should note there are other versions of this EP which include a song called Perfect This Time, which I do not have. If you have this track, please leave a comment and let me know what it is like. Either way, the 9-track version of the EP is spectacular, and at the cheap price there is no reason why anyone who considers themselves even remotely a fan of GBV should not have it...
Underground Initiations starts things off with a bang. All songs on this EP are under three minutes (except for the title track), and are mostly of the quick shot of rock variety. Underground Initiations definately falls in this category, as does the next song, Interest Position. However, Interest Position almost has a Blue Oyster Cult kind of thing going on. It is also bookended by a rocking riff.
Fly Into Ashes is the stand-out gem on Hold on Hope, and if there is one song to pick out and say, "why didn't they Do The Collapse-a-size this song?", it would be it. It is a happy tune, which I always include in my GBV-related playlists.
Tropical Robots is a beautiful little acoustic ditty which doesn't even make the minute-mark, though it is followed by a similar (though more campfire-singalong-ish), A Crick Uphill. This song really picks up near the end, adding sonic guitar and a heavier drum track which takes it to a completely different place.
Idiot Princess reminds me of some tunes on Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet (which to me, is Hold on Hope's EP brother - they kind of go well together). It is a heavy track which sounds as if Pollard is singing through a walkie-talkie (it even includes the words "Over and out").
Avalanche Aminos is another obvious inclusion in my ultimate GBV playlist. Though maybe slightly repetitive, the constant guitar riff is extremely catchy, and the chorus that appears near the end is excellent. Do The Collapse is an instrumental begging for lyrics, and I've wrote about Hold on Hope on my entry for the album Do The Collapse. So for those who are confused, there is a song called Hold on Hope on Do the Collapse, and a song called Do the Collapse on Hold on Hope.
This EP is perfect, except for maybe the title track which many people seem to have a problem with. In fact, it is probably more out of place on this EP than on Do the Collapse. I would definately consider this EP essential for the GBV collection, and maybe even a good entry point to a new fan.
Tracklisting (songs in bold make my ultimate Pollard/GBV playlist/box set):
01 Underground Initiations
02 Interest Position
03 Fly Into Ashes
04 Tropical Robots
05 A Crick Uphill
06 Idiot Princess
07 Avalanche Aminos
08 Do The Collapse
09 Hold On Hope