Album Review 404 Guild - False Dawn5 Stars
At once bleak, beautiful, emotionally charged and completely heartbreaking.
December isn’t really the ideal time to release a debut album: there’s a strong chance 404 Guild will find themselves lost in the perennial sea of rehashed greatest hits and festive crooners that take over come mid-November. But perhaps the idea of a hidden gem suits them: ‘False Dawn’ is at once bleak, beautiful, emotionally charged and completely heartbreaking. For every bit that last year’s ‘Guild Three: Open Water’ EP was raucous and confrontational in style, the group’s debut album proper uses a more subtle palette to show another side of those same raw edges. Vulnerable to extremes, it’s a microcosm of city life at its most anxious, peppering tender lines with trivial references to heavy effect. ‘Approach’ shows of small-hours insomnia (“My mind’s eye got blinded by ricochet”) while the “freak out in aisle three” of ‘Still’ is cutting in its everyday nature. Then there’s this gut-punch of a couplet in ‘Dead Air’: “I can see the past / It’s the future I can’t face.” ‘New Health’ does an immaculate job of playing with light and dark; the thematically soft “There is a hell on earth / And I’ll always share the dangers with you” is repeated with increasing angst as the song – clubby with added funk; think if Mike Skinner had Mark Ronson round for a guitar sesh at the turn of the millennium – manifests euphoria. ‘Sodium Light’ could be a Gorillaz cut – not least because of its Damon-like choruses – and ‘Evening Star’ is hypnotic in its almost jazz-like noodling. But the crushing blow comes with ‘Weak’ and ‘World Gets Better’. If the latter, a track which increases in vocal intensity to express pure spite at the very existence of spring and the newness it brings was one thing, that it follows a number that’s almost entirely based on a recording of the group’s Silvertongue – aka Mina Topley-Bird – who took her own life in 2019 makes for as pure and real a portrayal of grief as it gets. “The trains are still running / They’ve never been on time / My heart’s still beating / But I don’t feel alive,” it’s heart-wrenching. The context isn’t even needed to hit right where it needs to, either - the record does a spellbinding job of putting inner chaos into gorgeous, often soothing sonic form.
404 Guild release new track ‘The Evening Star’
Taken from their upcoming debut album ‘False Dawn’.
404 Guild announce debut album ‘False Dawn’
They’re sharing new single ‘Feedback Loop’ alongside.
404 Guild - Guild Three: Open Water
Where they’re headed sonically next could be from any of these paths, but every which one would remain just as exciting.
404 Guild release dreamy new single ‘Breathing Room’
Lifted from their forthcoming EP, ‘Guild Three: Open Water’.