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"Guards EP"

Guards – Guards EP
09 December 2010, 11:00 Written by Antonio Rowe
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Determining whether the skill of a musician is DNA-related or prempted by destiny is often speculated, with many using famous examples such as The Jacksons or Oasis as a way of proving how musical skill can be dictated by a family’s genepool. If you think it’s pot-luck or the combination of will-power and sheer determination that decides the success of a band, it really doesn’t matter because the Follin siblings dream-crushingly reinforce the DNA centered hypothesis to the nth degree. Madeline Follin is responsible for one half of blogosphere sensationalists Cults, meanwhile her brother Richie Follin ,not one to be left in the shadows, is fronting critically-acclaimed one-man band Guards. And whilst the output of the two projects have clear and strong familarities (both take the pop sensiblity and tendencies of the 60′s and put it through a rough/jagged-edge filter) it’s the latter of the two I’m here to discuss.

Richie an alumni from another band called Willowz (motivated kids these Follins are aren’t they) deems the music he creates under the name Guards as ‘pop wave doom’. Which is a surprisingly accurate tag for his music when listening to the self-titled debut EP. Throughout the brisk 19 minutes each song contains a mellifluous pop hook that’s wrapped and presented in a slightly bittersweet/dark manner. Ironically, it’s the collaboration with his sisters band that best illustrates the point I’m trying to make. The epic sing-a-long chorus haboured in ‘Sail It Slow’ is the only sign of light admist the wavering and vehement mentality of the song provided by the malignant riffs and drony chord progession.

His lyrics like his music wallow in the dark side of life with lament and depressive imagery appearing to be very much Richie’s ‘thing’:

”Swimming in a sea of catastrophe”

” A resolution of one digging up your lungs”

”On a better day I hope to give it all away”

” Yes on a better day it could of been another way”

These pessimistic notions are continued by ‘Long Time’ which expresses Follin’s frustration and sadness at giving up on a love pursuit after what seems to be a valiant effort. The aforementioned personal couplets are often delivered in Richie’s falsetto that’s imperssive enough when left to it’s own devices. But like the spew of nostalgia-driven new acts that have cropped up this year - reverb plays an enormous part of how everthing comes together and blurs into one big dreamy mess. But what’s distinct about this EP when compared to the work of his contemporaries, is that not once does it get bogged down or stifiled by it’s love for the 60′s or any other treasured musical era for that matter. Underneath all the recognisable trends are brillantly constructed lo-fi pop songs with dark albeit vulnerable lyrics, and the fact that this is all achieved in his first collection of songs is stunning. The only thing that’s more exciting? It’s free on his bandcamp.

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