Louisiana band Givers first received attention for their live performances, one of which landed them the opening slot touring with Dirty Projectors. Givers’ sound involves continually evolving rhythms and percussion, embodying their lyrics, “Don’t get stuck in the meantime/there’s no such thing as the meantime.” After all, the “meantime” distracts from the crucial instrumental moment at hand. But In Light could benefit from some attention to mundane but necessary background information, like song organization and structure. As it is, each track explores so many different instrumental phrases that they blend together into one long song.
That’s not to say it’s a bad song. The band’s extensive musical knowledge and talent expands In Light. You can hear vocalist Tiffany Lamson’s affinity for ‘50s rock and soul on “Meantime”, Chinese harps kick off “Ripe”, and “In My Eyes” coasts on a reggaeton beat. These songs build to a central breakdown rather than a climax (since Givers play each song with energy other bands reserve for the pinnacle, the listener pays more attention when they slow down). For example, the tight handclaps and drums that begin “Noche Nada” relax into an Aaliyah-like beat and a percussive finale Dirty Projectors would be proud of. Givers’ repetition of simple but emphatic lyrics also helps to focus the album. On “Saw You First”, Lamson and lead vocalist/guitarist Taylor Guarisco repeatedly harmonize “I saw you first/it was in a dream”; on their eponymous single “Up, Up, Up”, their vocalizations call and respond. Lamson’s husky voice gives heft and sophistication to the sunny Afrobeat-influenced melodies.
When they perform, Givers ignite the audience with their harmonic and rhythmic dexterity. They synthesize Cajun and Zydeco, tropicalia, and other international influences with an ease that’s rarely heard. Recorded, the finer nuances of this fluidity are lost to the “Wait, haven’t I heard this before?” effect. If only each song were shorter and less spontaneous than their onstage renditions, then Givers would be more than just another Afrobeat band.