Many young bands struggle to convert their meticulously crafted songs to the stage: If you imitate a record too much, it can sap your spontaneity in front of an audience. But it can be equally difficult to capture a live sound on a recording, leaving the songs feeling flat and lifeless. Givers, however, is on the right track to balancing the stage and the studio.
Live, Givers' music is a clatter of percussion, bright tropical melodies, slinky guitar upstrokes and playful vocals that float over polyrhythmic grooves. The songs are wild, loose and fun; there's a feeling of immediacy, especially in the buoyant "Up Up Up." On In Light — the Lafayette, La., band's debut full-length, following an EP and a few singles — Givers harnesses some of that raw, celebratory energy, but it also expands its palette and moods in the process.
Givers' sound has drawn comparisons to that of Vampire Weekend, which is understandable: While VW was hardly the first band to incorporate Afrobeat and reggae-inspired elements into rock, it has certainly left a lasting influence on many of indie-pop's jammier acts. Givers, however, trades much of that crisp precision for passion.
Singers Taylor Guarisco and Tiffany Lamson sing with a sort of push-and-pull interaction as their voices weave in and out of each other's parts: Guarisco's soaring wail rolls his eyes back into his head, as if he's possessed by the moment, while Lamson's voice is raspy and alluring, especially in "Atlantic." It's Givers' spirited chemistry that enlivens this pared-down Tiny Desk Concert performance at the NPR Music offices. The result is a sunny and exuberant set, suitable for dancing and bobbing along.
- "Up Up Up"
Michael Katzif (cameras); audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Emily Bogle/NPR