New York City's Guards don't mess around. 'In Guards We Trust' erupts from the speakers, a whirlwind of Phil Spector atmospherics, stomping drums, hazy spiralling guitar lines, and harmony-drenched psychedelic pop vocals. The songs harness big hooks and choruses with enough fuzz-pedal to keep things suitably lo-fi, but with more melodies in each song than many bands manage over the course of an album.
You might be aware of Guards' protagonist already. Richie Follin is the guitarist in indie-pop band Cults. While on tour, Follin and Cults drummer Loren Humphrey (who Follin worked with in garage-rock band The Willowz) spent much of their downtime writing songs and getting ideas down onto tape. The resulting demos, with Follin on lead vocals, sounded fresh and exciting, and thus Guards were born. The band became a very real prospect when LA friend, Kaylie Church joined on keyboards and dual-vocals.
'In Guards We Trust' shares an affinity with sixties psychedelia, and evokes all the colour and imagery of that era, yet such is the sheer force of the band's playing, there's no sign of the languidness that those artists became synonymous with. From the opening dreamscape and phased-sound intro of 'Nightmare' which makes way for Follin-Church's shouted vocal presence, it's a debut album that, not unlike Tame Impala, shares a breadth of ideas without over-complicating the song-writing.
'Giving Out' is Guards at their most muscular. Follin and Church hammer out a chorus of 'I feel it giving out/your clock is running out' as the drums hammer cavernously behind them. It soars and screams; an indie-rock song with the temperature gauge stuck at melting point.
New single 'Ready To Go' and free download 'Silver Lining' raise the record's pace, the latter of which is a gloriously leftfield and unashamedly bold pop song. It's a strong tone that remains throughout 'In Guards We Trust'. 'Your Man' finds Guards at their most simmering and lethargic, a beautifully hallucinatory tune that gives prominence to Church's vocals. The album concludes on '1 & 1', a story of romance that spins and rotates to its natural conclusion aided by Follins' effects-laden vocal.
The innate understanding that Follin and Humphrey have built through years of practice and global touring together is unmistakable, but it's Kaylie Church's restrained vocal presence that acts as a huge weapon in Guards' arsenal throughout the record.
Exceeding expectations is why Guards exist as a band in the first place. 'In Guards We Trust' - expect the unexpected.
Tracklisting: Nightmare/Giving Out/Ready To Go/Silver Lining/Heard The News/Not Supposed To/I Know It's You/Coming True/Your Man/Can't Repair/Home Free/1 & 1
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