In a world where people struggle to understand what the “indie” label really means, Guards suspends everyone from pondering these queries with the 12 sensationally soothing songs on their new full-length album, In Guards We Trust.
Based in New York, the indie pop trio consists of Loren Humphrey, Kaylie Church, and Richie James Follin, brother of Cults’ lead vocalist Madeline Follin. Guards’ 2010 self-titled EP gave listeners a hard time as they resist the urge to dance in public or loudly tap a pen to the beat of the drum on a desk in the library. Unfortunately, the full-length doesn’t even come close to matching the excellence of this EP.
While every pseudo-intellectual hipster out there knows the familiar sound of indie rock and roll, Guards manages to stand out with their variety of tracks and attention to detail—the vocals flux and flow while the instrumentation has an aura of soda-pop rock. The occasional female-male harmonization is also a nice touch, as heard in “Giving Out”, a breezy synth-infused track.
The short breaks within the songs give the instruments room to breath and bend, while also highlighting the band’s musical abilities beyond the washed out vocals. To be honest, the instruments are far more impressive and really give the songs a solid foundation to breed. This method really comes into play in “Ready To Go”, where the guitar riffs seductively answer back to Follin when he sings the chorus.
“Silver Lining” will cast a sense of nostalgia on the listener, as it is easy to get caught up in its upbeat tempo. However, the album falls into a bit of a rut after “Heard The News”. And after hearing “give it up, give it up” drone on in your ears for almost four and a half minutes, it’s easy to give up on listening to the rest of the album in its entirety. “Your Man” is the slowest track and almost seems as though it were produced for a western film in a desert on dusty guitars and tambourines.
Behind all the noise are lyrics that lack any depth or sentimentality. The best example of this is in the song “Coming True”, where Follin sings, “Now it’s all coming true/ What’s a boy supposed to do/ With a girl like you?” Something about that line comes off unconvincing and insincere. On top of that, the other lyrics don’t make much sense and come off as random headlines pieced together. (The same problem also pops up in the previous synth-driven track, “I Know It’s You”.)
Guards has so much potential, especially with a background like Follin’s, but what the band really lacks is a musical personality. The longhaired brunette identity is not enough for this band to make a name for itself. Additionally, it’s hard to resist the urge to compare them to other bands when nothing about them sounds distinct.
While none of Guards’ songs sound the same, there are so many different things going on that the listener easily gets thrown off track. A few songs out-shine the rest, but there is not nearly enough consistency. The saying “less is more” could have prevented this album from flopping towards the mainstream. In Guards We Trust was a decent start, but will leave most warm with disappointment.