ALBUM REVIEW: Guardin – So That’s It, Huh?

Release Date: December 31st 2020
Label: Photo Finish Records
Website: None available


In the half decade that the emo-trap genre has had to gestate and develop, several artists who paramount in the scene’s inception have slowly begun their long-awaited transitions from the deep underground to more widespread fare.

Guardin (real name Nicholas Kerr) represents a key example, racking up millions of views with genuine hits like ‘Solitary’ that hinted from the off that this was much more than a sad kid with a laptop, but rather a bonafide songwriter.

With a near constant stream of material, as well touring slots opening for the likes of Angel Du$t and Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, it’s really no surprise that a record deal would find its way into Kerr‘s hands eventually. ‘So That’s It, Huh?’ might not be the big, bold fence-swinging label debut some were expecting, but instead functions as the most concise and focused work of this early career.

Clocking in at just under a half hour, brevity is very much at the core of what makes this collection work so well. Apart from a relatively clichéd and somewhat pointless intro, each track explores a different dimension to what makes Guardin such an endearing voice in the scene.

There’s the minimal, vaporwave-esque ‘Falling Out The Window’; a sparse, clattering, predominately percussive cut that conjures the eeriest of vibes before being counteracted by a rumbling current of a bass line. While elsewhere, the plucking acoustic ditty ‘Cuba Lake’ strips away any hip-hop pretence. Although lyrical flow can arise, Kerr has never pushed the idea that he’s a rapper. He’s a very open child of pop-punk and emo who finds himself right at home amongst 808s and hi-hats as much as over acoustic ballads.

Whether it be the twinkling toy-synths of ‘Kinda Sorta’, the ethereal trap of ‘Make It Out’, or the guitar noodle of album highlight ‘Willow Ave’, the latter of which carries the most infectious earworm hook only further bolstered by exceptional features from Sewerperson and Lil Narnia, he can pull it all off. It’s a track like ‘Willow Ave’ that makes it obvious why the emo-trap scene is for all intents and purposes the pop-punk of the modern era.

It may feel somewhat incomplete or anti-climactic to some, but the restrained, less is more approach is commendable. However, when taking into account the execution, vision, and focus presented, one would hope for Guardin to put more trust in himself and his ambition moving forward with future projects.

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