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The Guild League: A Moment Of Hope

Just about everything about The Guild League can be summed up in one word: understated. There's not much press on this indie-pop band from Melbourne, Australia, though frontman Tali White is also associated with a more well-known act, The Lucksmiths. Unlike its better-known counterpart, The Guild League plays mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, and has seemed content to produce music that, while beautiful, is the lowest of low-key while still qualifying as rock.

With its new album Speak Up, however, The Guild League takes its own advice, kicking the beats up a notch and allowing some of its sounds to cut loose. Leading in with a rubber-band guitar riff, the ska-heavy "Mouse vs. Mountain" from the start anticipates a foot-tapping chorus, complete with brass, handclaps and "oh-la-la" backup vocals.

But, as if to remind listeners that he's not singing for The New Pornographers, White blankets the tune with his perpetually wistful voice and some surprisingly hope-tinged predictions. "Our day will come," he sings, adding, "We're the real story in your so-called news." At the beginning of a year that could use some optimism, it's a bit of empowerment that's timelier than the band could have anticipated.

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Afton Lorraine Woodward