International outfit Guts have chosen a befitting moniker. They’re certainly not afraid of unchartered territory. They have a similar revolving door approach to their line-up as ’80s/’90s legends Soul II Soul (different musicians and singers for different projects). This could partially be attributed to the practicalities of coordinating a group whose members are scattered across the globe.
Their latest EP ‘Stop the Violence’ also suggests a strong inclination towards the experimental. However, it’s not the wholly realised material of a more polished eclectic band. ‘STV’ has in places the rawness of a secondary school music project. The goal is admirable but the results are mixed. Whilst the contagious funk of the socially-conscious title track becomes more apparent on repeat listens, the cod patois interjections on ‘Drummer’s Delight’ is cringe-inducing to the point of undermining the whole effort.
The inclusion of all five instrumentals is a helpful indicator of underlying creative intentions, even if the accompanying vocals/verses aren’t quite up to them. Such is the case for ‘Pick Me Up’ which segues from generic pop-R&B to classy fusion-jazz instrumental.
Lyrically, ‘Everyone Wants To Be a Star’ (feat. Wolfgang Volburn) has a charming naiveté (depending on your mood), raised a notch by the nostalgic appeal of the Electric Boogaloo-influenced production. The EP’s most accomplished track is Hip-Hop/soul/jazz hybrid ‘Ain’t Perfect’; a lament about relational misunderstandings. Mary May’s coquettish vocals call to mind ’90s UK soulstress Kele Le Roc’s distinctive lispy rasp. If her sultry refrain belies the song’s plaintive undertone, Beat Assailant’s heart-on-sleeve verse and chorus evinces a disarming tenderness.
‘Stop the Violence’ – out now on vinyl, CD and digital formats.