Band Name: Guilford
Album Name: Weak
Best element: Standout track “First in a Series”.
Genre: Slow, plodding rock.
Label name: Maiden Voyage Records
Band e-mail: Guilford@guilfordmusic.com
Guilford’s first album was a wonder to behold. Band leader Greg Olson set out to make an album that was composed completely and entirely by him. That album was entitled Wrought, and it was full of lush, deep acoustic songs that overflowed with life, passion, and mournful earnestness.
Unfortunately, Weak does not continue the trend. Greg Olson has now succumbed to that horror that all acoustic music lovers fear- the full band. And we fear it for the very reasons that this album stinks: the full band dilutes the artistic vision of the band leader, muddies the arrangements, and makes the band rely less on what the original album was about and more on the band.
Guilford definitely does accomplish the goal of setting a mood, but the mood is a morose, somber, near-death experience sort of mood. The music, which now features slow, relatively simple electric guitar dirges instead of the rolling, powerful acoustic guitar I’m used to from Guilford, just doesn’t have the spark of vitality that Wrought had. The music plods along, never breaking the mood, but never putting forth a track that can even rival the worst ones on Wrought. The closest that Guilford comes to the former brilliance is the acoustic/vocals only “First in a Series”. The world-weary vocals I so love from Guilford shine out strong, and the guitars are given free reign to work their magic.
Some critics bash a good album simply because it’s a deviation from the established style- but this isn’t even a good album if it were to stand alone. It feels messy and unfocused, due to the fact that the guitars aren’t that interesting, and they don’t propel the sound towards any meaningful conclusion. In fact, Guilford gets dangerously close to a cliché post-rock sound with these strange, diluted songs- see “When Blackness” for an example.
This album is not one I can recommend. I was so disappointed in this album that I can’t begin to express it. I still listen to the magnificence that is Wrought, and I hope that Guilford’s third outing is a return to glory. There is hope for that- it looks to me like Weak is a little bit of a concept album….but don’t pin me down on that. It just appears that way due to the sameness of the music, I guess.