Akron, OH-based duo En Garde (Ross Horvath – vocals/guitar – and Andy Hendricks – drums) have shared a collection of songs recorded back in 2012 with Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Algernon Cadwallader) via the always sublime Count Your Lucky Stars Records.
The EP opens with the urgent, intense and impassioned ‘Our Hands’. Reminding us of La Dispute or Mewithoutyou, there’s a frantic delivery in both the mathy instrumentation and delivery of the lyrics as Ross talks about digging his own grave and forcing water out of rocks. There seems to be a theme of defiance in the face of adversity and this continues through to ‘Cri de Cœur’, a song that opens with a hypnotic drumbeat that soon moves into something more militant while a tale of being deceived is delivered against odd time signatures that bring to mind any of Evan Weiss’s bands. There is also talk of boy scouts and having a knot in your stomach before a declaration that you’ll stand up to things. ‘Self Poortraits’ (yes, we like the title, too) is more toe-tapping but then takes a turn into pulsating riffs and more assertive lyrics: ‘Pull up a chair, touch my hands, I’m a real man’.
‘Edentualism’ is slower than what has come before and has more melancholic stop-start guitar tones before making way for what sounds like a snippet of a party as Ross talks about ‘social status’ and asks ‘what’s the use?’ The EP comes to an end with ‘Tightropes’ – a three-minute emo song falling somewhere between Thrice and TTNG as Ross introspectively and self-depreciatingly talks about ‘Keeping expectations low’ and reveals how ‘We are waiting for something else’. He also looks back on how ‘We’ve been throwing all our stones, occupying stained glass homes’.
‘Debtors’ is a vital EP that is rich in detail.