Guarantees, the debut full-length from Athens rockers Grand Vapids, reveals its essence two minutes into “Adequate,” the album’s balmy second track. “I have fears that I’m inadequate,” sings frontman McKendrick Bearden laconically, “and I just don’t know it.” The lyric is delivered with a moody, melodic nonchalance; it’s paired with a chugging, textured, drop-D accompaniment.
Grand Vapids’ debt to the gentle giants of ‘80s and ’90s indie rock and slowcore is made clear from the start. Fans of groups like Bedhead, Idaho and Swervedriver will indeed find sanctuary in Guarantees’ rich, rainy world of sound, which is both intricate and undemanding.
The band’s two songwriters’ personalities are distinct but complementary. Bearden’s tales of interpersonal chaos are delivered with David Bazan-like precision, while Austin Harris’ cloudy, layered space-pop vaguely resembles a cross between Bradford Cox’s muscular obfuscations and Lockett Pundt’s gentler work as Lotus Plaza. (To hammer that comparison home, engineer Drew Vandenberg, who recorded the lovely-sounding Guarantees, also worked on Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest.)
But all the references distract from the heart of the matter: Guarantees is frighteningly coherent, a startling debut from an exciting new band that has already found, and will surely continue to find, footing outside Athens. Get down with Grand Vapids while we can still call them our own.
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