The buoyant Givers bask in sonic sunshine
Published: January 12, 2012
with Young Man
8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18
The Social, 407-246-1419
In February 2010, music blog the Wild Honey Pie conducted an interview with Lafayette, Louisiana-bred five-piece Givers. Early in the exchange (which appears to have been done over email), the site asked the band a fairly standard question about good and bad comparison points they’ve received. The band’s answer began with an amusing revelation: “There have been people who thought we were a Christian praise band,” the entity only identified as “Givers” responded. “We think that’s funny.” A search for additional info on this misperception turns up few relevant details: a Spin profile mentioned that vocalist-percussionist Tiffany Lamson once sang for a church band; in an interview elsewhere, she noted that the first show she attended was a “Christian concert in a huge arena” – so it’s easy to understand the mix-up. Givers don’t espouse religious beliefs in their music, but they’re undoubtedly a praise band. Rather than a deity, however, they’re here to venerate the pluses of positivity and being alive.
In contrast to the unsatisfying “Givers” and “Christian” search, Googling “Givers” and various synonyms for happiness – “joyful,” “upbeat,” “smiley” – quickly strikes gold. This isn’t just an idea that’s been generated by the press and tagged onto the band; the members themselves have cultivated a superpositive image.
“We’re immensely happy people,” vocalist-guitarist Taylor Guarisco told the Guardian. “We’re just regular people who were told growing up that we should get a degree and prepare for the worst” yet still “imagined the best.” When Spin spoke to Lamson about her apartment and belongings being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina as she attended the University of New Orleans, she said, “It was awesome to be smacked in the face with that. It changes your perspective.” This is a brand of optimism that demands serious commitment.
Givers stem from a colorful musical background. Its players were inspired by or have been in bands that played Afropop, zydeco, punk, electronica, experimental music and jazz. You can hear those genres in varying doses: The kind charms of Afropop and zydeco glimmer brightly, while fragments of electronica reverberate in keyboard lines. (Any trace of punk, however, is nonexistent.) Together, their blend falls comfortably into the nebulous but helpful bracket of indie pop, and it’s hard to listen to them without thinking of Vampire Weekend or Dirty Projectors (the latter a band Guarisco has gushed over in interviews).
In Light, their debut record released in June, also proves that said blend is custom made for feel-good songwriting. This kaleidoscope of tropical-toned touches – enthusiastically delivered hooks, genial drumbeats, guitars that flutter with the earnestness of pinwheels, the easygoing vocal interplay between Lamson and Guarisco – is like the Beach Boys’ All Summer Long in that both albums design an environment fit for a good mood and then invest their time in exploring them. Several numbers from In Light could comfortably soundtrack resort or cruise commercials.
Of course, doggedly sticking with any tone for too long can begin to grate. Givers avoid this problem early on by sprinkling In Light with cool-down moments and lyrics that convey their idealism without relying on a heavy hand. (“Meantime” provides some nice advice: “Don’t get stuck in the meantime / There’s no such thing as the meantime / It comes, it goes, it washes away.”)
In a surprising turn, they have said, “One day we hope to be compared to Tool.” Perhaps one day, Givers will tackle grayer climes.
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