Guards is essentially just singer Richie Follin with contributions from Caroline Polachek (Chairlift) and Cults. The album is filled with so much sound that one might think it was a five-piece band. There are many instruments used on the album and each does a particular job to create a lo-fi pop experience.
If MGMT was married to Karen O and The Kids and had an illegitimate child with Arcade Fire, it would be Guards. This bastard child croons, chants, and makes sure it is heard on all eight tracks of Guards. Guards seemingly have all the characteristics of its parents: It has the “Oooh Oooh Oooh” backing vocals a la Arcade Fire, yowling vocals set to a magical keyboard a la MGMT, and a childlike wonder tone a la Karen O and the Kids. It has been a while since a debut EP has been so ambitious.
This is not some exasperating brat that steals from its parents’ success, in fact, Guards explores new terrain especially with vocal harmonies. “Sail It Slow” strides forward smoothly as the vocals play off one another in a vigorous fashion. The opening track “Resolution Of One” has a chorus that explodes like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. On “Crystal Truth”, there is a blissful melody that makes you wonder how no one has written it before. Each song is solid in its own distinct way and it never feels like you have been listening to the same song for too long. This is probably due to the fact that most songs do not go past the three minute point. Also, each song flies by with the help of the harmonizing refrains. Instrumentally, everything is solid especially the thunderous drums. The beat always feels firm next to such sweet-tempered vocals and each instrument highlights another fittingly.
It is impossible not to allude to other bands that Guards sounds like but that does not take away from the achievements of Guards. No doubt, Guards sounds like the illegitimate child of a few notable indie bands but who really cares? At least it is not the illegitimate child of MC Hammer and LFO. This is a wonderful debut EP for the little brat.