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Thursday, November 30, 2023


Louisiana band gives listeners a new spin on indie pop

Givers’ first full-length album, “In Light” was mixed by Ben Allen and Chris Coady, who have worked with the likes of Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, respectively. It was released on June 7, 2011. | Photo by Eliot Brasseaux

Givers’ first full-length album, “In Light” was mixed by Ben Allen and Chris Coady, who have worked with the likes of Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, respectively. It was released on June 7, 2011. | Photo by Eliot Brasseaux

It isn’t very often that Louisiana provides a home for a band in the indie pop scene. Cities such as Portland, Austin, Toronto and New York are the usual mass producers of the independent music industry. However, Givers upsets the stereotype, reinventing the genre while managing to subtly represent its Cajun influence (a few members of the band have been involved in the Cajun/zydeco genre).

“In Light” is Givers’ first full length LP, containing all of the self-titled EP’s tracks and a handful more. This Lafayette-based quintet takes the uplifting, feel-good style shared by so many bands in the world of indie pop and severely messes around with it. They take it apart, slow it down, and build it back up again, all by the end of the first track.

Be warned: using “In Light” as background music for conversation may be difficult. Givers demands your attention with incredibly catchy harmonies, and then taunts you when they refuse to finish a musical section the way you’re accustomed to.

The use of metric modulation (slowing down or speeding up the tempo without warning) can be confusing at first, a feeling similar to the first time you listen to dub-step. However, because of the seductive vocal melodies of Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco, many of the tracks beckon the listener to try again and figure out what is happening musically. Very rarely does this level of complexity find its way into the pop genre.

Every member of the group is multitalented, each contributing at least two instruments to the mix. Instrumentation includes the typical set-up of guitar, bass, keys, and drums, with an additional percussion section (played by Lamson) as well as a flute and a saxophone, both played by keyboardist Nick Stephan.

Though their responsibilities are numerous, Givers project a vibe of complete confidence and cohesion. The constant drift into new tempos is decorated with complex rhythmic fills (i.e. a transition between a verse and a chorus) that are consistently accurate and together.

Each track contains several parts with varying styles and time signatures, with each section fitting together perfectly like a musical puzzle. Typically, a songwriter with this many musical themes would isolate each idea and expand it, thereby producing a new track. Givers doesn’t take the easy way out, and instead creates longer and more involved songs.

Yet the album never loses steam, even with the average track length being five minutes. The longer tracks give room for the listener to breathe and take in all that Givers is offering.

Guitar solos sound heavily influenced by The Allman Brothers Band, with the two guitarists playing the same solo in parallel intervals (a musical interval is the distance between two notes).

Disregarding the technical merits of the band members, “In Light” provides ten accessible, fun-loving tracks. The second track, “Meantime,” is a perfect example of this, with its friendly chord progressions (the basic musical structure of a song), and eventual upbeat mantra: “Don’t get stuck in the meantime / No such thing as the meantime.”

Throughout the album, Givers uses their collective vocal talents (three of the five members sing) as an impact moment, such as the opening lyric of “Up, Up, Up” and “Saw You First.” The album continues to impress with “Ceiling Of Plankton” (another track borrowed from the EP), and features possibly the most powerful chorus of the album.

Nearing the conclusion, Givers shows their calmer side with the more straight forward “In My Eyes,” “Atlantic,” and “Go Out All Night.” The finale is “Words,” with another heavy, pumped-up chorus and an emphasis on vocal harmony in the verses.

“In Light” is a fresh perspective of what can be done musically in the genre of indie pop. Givers successfully delivers a new product, ready to be technically analyzed or simply enjoyed. This is an album that keeps on giving.

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