The Guild League – Speak Up (Matinee)
Given that the line-up of The Guild League contains links to The Lucksmiths and several other Antipodean indie-pop luminaries, it’d be natural to conclude that this would join them in being a slightly wistful collection with all the tenets of those connections. That natural assumption makes Speak Up a pleasingly defiant and luxurious, muscular and bracing collection. Rather than simple, quiet paeans (well, there are a couple of those…), the dominant song type is boisterous and unabashed pop thrills throughout – with necessary introspection to contextualise.
The most defiant of these is Suit Fits, the opening line of which goes “Now is the hour that I coat myself in power/tie the silk noose tight”. Indeed, its premise of employment as entrapment is not new, but the buoyancy and bouncing enthusiasm with which Tali White semi-spits his vocal and the twanging answers in the arrangement do more than manning-up the words might. Indeed, Belle & Sebastian’s Take Your Carriage Clock And Shove It might be a close cousin, but the subject is dealt with here ambiguity, with a view of the other side. It’s no worthier than B&S’ more savage mauling of the 9-5, but it certainly fiddles with its dimensions enough to maintain the interest.
Elsewhere, the arrangements become sprightlier still, with the wind and brass of Where’s The Colour? standing out as fine sing-along fare, and the grisly guitars of 17 Summer cementing the notion that we could quite easily be sliding out of twee focus… That necessary introspection has to surface somewhere, though, and it is nowhere more finely and evocatively displayed on the beautiful Limited Express. As seems to be the collective wont of The Guild League, the expression of minutiae in some of its more depressive and sighing guises is frequently heartbreaking and subtly mirrored by ‘cello and soft Drake-esque strokes. If one song had to be picked from this bonny collection it should be this, but there are more than enough examples of the myriad directions indie-pop can take on its more fanciful voyages to sustain the listener.