The day GIVERS released its debut album IN LIGHT in 2011, guitarist and vocalist Taylor Guarisco huddled over a phone in Texas, several hundred miles from the band's home in Louisiana, and beamed through every word on a round of press calls. Four years later, the day before the release of the band's anticipated follow-up, he's tired and still on the road, as if GIVERS had never stopped touring.
Writing and recording New Kingdom (out this month on Glassnote Records) also was "somewhat nomadic," he says. The band wrote in the quiet of Banner Elk, North Carolina and False River, Louisiana, and recorded at Dockside Studios in Maurice, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and Parlor Studios in New Orleans. It performs a hometown album-release show at One Eyed Jacks Nov. 25.
"I found this photo of a dry erase board — there's around 50 song ideas. Fifty song ideas got reduced to 30 songs, then 30 songs into 15 tracks. Out of those 15, 12 got finished all the way," Guarisco says en route from Washington D.C. to New York for a show at Brooklyn's Rough Trade that night. "Between 50 songs and 12 songs, it's about cultivating an album that creates a certain place, gives you a certain feeling. We wanted to hone in on that feeling and allow the record to go someplace we hadn't gone before. ... It was a journey, this odyssey to be able to fit it all together. I guess that's what made it feel the way it feels. ... It kept things fired — it was the only way it was going to happen, really."
In 2011, the band released its debut on Glassnote, sharing a label with then-buzz bands Mumford & Sons and Phoenix. In Light glimpsed a group that grew up under the influence of the globetrotting music at Lafayette's Festival International de Louisiane, where the band is a staple. But the joyous starbursts from every riff, synth squiggle and "ceiling of plankton" on In Light cool to something more ominous and mysterious on New Kingdom. Bubbling synths, flickering electronics, deep bass and rich, colorful production transform the band's worldbeat into futuristic, otherworldly pop.
The first lines on the album follow a wordless atmospheric introduction — Guarisco and Tiffany Lamson harmonize "We've come further across the breaking line" as a mantra throughout "Bermuda" (if ever there was a place to get lost in some new ideas). Each song transforms into several — "Shaky But True" melts into starry-eyed neo-soul, and the band's meditative, Apache beat-driven electronic pop fries the circuitboards and dissolves into liquid space funk, from the pulsing disco of "Layback" to "Sleeper Hold," which has spoken word passages from GIVERS' cosmic guru Dr. John: "In the jungle of life, we comin' to a point where we could see every pattern, every particle, dancin' its way out that sleeper hold."
"We kind of kicked out all our windows and doors as far as what sounds we were going to let in the album," Guarisco says. "It was definitely a thing we all felt inside. Nobody really needed to express it verbally. Musically we're always growing and wanting to try new things out — that's how this thing all got started. We wanted to make a band where we explore new things. If we didn't explore new things it would kind of go against the mission statement of the band."