A rare feat
THE HOME GUARD
Forlorn Hope and Glory
9.5 / 10.0 (For being a rare feat, great composition, and excellent production)
It is indeed a rarity to hear a band make significant growth from their 1st album to their 2nd. While The Home Guard's first album was more "Britpop", their new album has brought a whole new, "cooler/darker" sound to their already unique sound.
What can be said of this album? Well, I’ll tell you of my experience:
I had been anticipating the release of this album for several months. Needless to say, when I got it in the mail, I promptly gave it a “special listen” (definition: listening to an album with headphones, lights-off, and no distractions – the truest way to listen to music). I expected it to be good. Were those expectations met? No… they were shattered – a cliché statement, yes, but very true.
Having listened to the work-in-progress demos, I knew that I would really like 3 or 4 of the songs. Now that I’ve heard the final product, I’m left with one absolute favorite and five that I really can’t pick a second favorite from! That means I truly, truly enjoy 6 of the 10 songs. I like 2 of the remaining 4 as they are also very solid tracks. The remaining 2 are good but don’t quite meet the excellence of the rest (as these two are more of the previous era of The Home Guard, in my opinion), but are still enjoyable.
Listening to the final product blew away all my expectations that I had gathered from listening to the demos. Two songs that took me by surprise were Year Zero and Dead On My Feet (Again).
This album exceeded my expectations by so much, that even the new upcoming albums from my favorite mainstream artists now have a serious contender for Best Album of the Year.
I have listened to this album several times now. I am highly pleased with this album, and I absolutely love the direction that The Home Guard has taken their music. Forlorn Hope and Glory will be hard for these two guys to beat – but if they do manage that feat… I won’t be surprised in the slightest if they reach the top charts.
1. Year Zero – Love it. This album begins with a heartbeat rhythm played on the bass drum, intended as an homage to Queen II. Then comes the coolest musical moment I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, as a very cool guitar riff plays along with the heartbeat bass drum.
This is a very good song. Boasting a large variety of sections and walking in both the light and dark, this song makes for a perfect album opener. The best part of the song is when the opening guitar riff makes a re-emergence at 3:57 during the long bridge. Wonderful, wonderful song.
2. Sweating Blood – Possibly the only “hard rock” song that The Home Guard has composed to date, this song is a touch on the mainstream side of rock music, but still different with the organs and synth. Another very solid track.
3. Nothing Can Stop You Being Mine – Love it. This is a darker piano-driven track that has a very nice touch to it. I really cannot compare this song to anything else… it’s that unique.
4. One For The Road – This is one of two tracks that take a step back in time, going back to the days of A Head of Steam. Nevertheless, The Home Guard has succeeded in raising the bar in this particular aspect of their music.
5. Turn Me Up – Love it. A dark rock track built around a simple organ chord progression, this song houses an excellent drum beat and an even better bassline. This is probably the definitive song of the new sound that The Home Guard has brought to their already colorful palette.
6. Soldier On – Love it. This song shines. The verses make me feel as if I’ve been transported to a jazz club. As I mentioned in my previous review of A Head of Steam, I mentioned that I really don’t like saxophones… but this song seems to have bypassed my defenses – I really like the sax in this song.
The dynamics in the song are strong, as the softer verses are contrasted by the harder choruses. There’s also a decent instrumental section during the latter-half of the song – though not my favorite part.
7. Dead On My Feet (Again) – Love it. Though not quite as dark as some of the other tracks on this album, this album definitely has some of its own strong points:
Firstly, the verses take ownership of what is possibly the coolest drum beat my ears have ever become acquainted with.
Secondly, both the vocals and lyrics are the best that Dan has offered to date. The vocals match the nature of the song perfectly, and the lyrics are just… wow. Some very, very interesting metaphors are played out here. Great song.
8. Pseudonym – The second of the two songs that takes a step back to the days of A Head of Steam. The part at 1:07-1:16 is definitely noteworthy. Aside from that excellent moment, the strongest aspect of this song would have to be the combination of Dan’s vocals and the piano.
9. City and Soke – An all-around solid rock song with that Home Guard synth that we all love. Good stuff.
10. Other People – !!!!LOVE IT!!!!
Superior to all things this year. Want some good reasons to listen to it? Here’s a few:
- The song emphasizes a beautiful piano above all else.
- The song takes a very minimalistic approach, keeping things simple.
- The choruses are brief and bring only what complements the beautiful piano.
- It’s dark.
- It ends with resounding finality.