Imagine the calypso bounce of Vampire Weekend and apply the expansiveness of Animal Collective, and you’re not far off the impressive In Light, the debut album from Givers. Mixing the Cajun, Spanish, Native American and African influences that bubble away in the undercurrent culture of home-state Louisiana, they are the Givers, and we the grateful receivers, of a quirky and charming debut.
Lead single and album opener ‘Up Up Up’ scores the template: calypso sing-alongs driven by a fuzzy bassline and washed-out guitars; tight verses and bubbling background synths. Ben Allen – whose previous work includes the aforementioned Animal Collective – produces here, and his production values are clear – those little production quirks that turned Animal Collective’s song into ethereal mazes to get lost in, here add setting and scene to the myriad of influences presented to us.
Folk, blues, prog, and even Foals-esque indie rock manage to fight their way into songs. ‘Saw You First’ is a folky number that can’t resist the occassional burst of noisy interlude, yet serve to make the tight sections tighter, more intimate. ‘Ceiling Of Plankton’ marries indie rock and Cajun hop to provide the most accomplished track on the record, with a chorus satisfying all pop sensibilities and an outro drop that provides a highlight of the album.
The Vampire Weekend comparisons will be inevitable; there’s just no getting away from the fact that calypso indie is the playground sound of one band, and since then the sound has gone all surfy and has been left dead in the water (because surf was never really cool). But for Givers this comparison sells them short. They’re far braver, far more interesting than Vampire Weekend ever were. Parts of this little indie pop album are huge, loud and noisy, but delivered with a focus that stops the record falling into grandiosity. It’s just charming.