I love this record! I think it might be music for people who love music but also hate it too? The songs are mysterious, close to the ear, compelling. There’s a melodic persistence, and Guests know how to arrange emotionally resonant tones, but it’s not enough to suppress the misshapen dread at the core of this record. ‘I wish I was special’ carries a sense of limitation, a feeling of reaching paired with a feeling of disappointment. Something like chasing ghosts or befriending a wild animal, that certainty of failure and that refusal to give up. The label invokes Flaming Tunes. This scans for me: the sense of ritual, of secret language, of everything-is-available. An overlap of domestic life and public presentation that can feel curious or nosy, empathic or awkward. And that baseline realization that you can’t really understand what someone else’s life is like, no matter how transparent or vulnerable they make themselves. The label also has a great line about the band’s admiration for “the legacies of twee underground and avant garde experimentalism.” This scans too! But for Guests, these aren’t casual reference points. Like this is the twee of Sarah Records, not in terms of sound as much as in terms of purpose, of a melody of refusal, of being all-in, of caring for every note. And this is the experimentation of Julius Eastman, of finding the exact right WRONG sound to express the discontent. Of building your own instrument if that’s what it takes.

Members of Vital Idles, Mordwaffe, and No Womb. Released April 2024 by World of Echo, London. Edition of 300, black vinyl, color sleeve, printed inner.