The Sincerity Guild, What It’s Like on the Inside

[This review originally appeared in All The Rage.]

The Sincerity Guild
What It’s Like on the Inside
(Theory 8 Records)

Nashville’s The Sincerity Guild play carefully-constructed instrumental rock that avoids many post-rock cliches but walks a fine line between imagination and execution. On their debut album for Theory 8 Records, What It’s Like on the Inside, TSG don’t play discordant or intentionally obtuse music. Instead, their instrumentals are accessible – tightly-packed, riff-driven rock music that follows conventional song structures.

Where other post-rock bands shift riffs and rhythms abruptly for the sake of discomfort, TSG would rather not alienate the listener. Towards that end, the meters are usually 4/4, the riffs harmonious and the structures recognizable.

…That the bones you have broken may rejoice – perhaps the best song here – is a perfect example of this. It proceeds along a verse, chorus, bridge arrangement and relies upon the band’s musical prowess to bring the song to life.

Instead of dissonance, TSG use silence to build tension. The opener, The Keeping Room (Part I), builds slowly and quietly and will eventually leave the listener hanging with false endings. Where to now, Moses? makes use of a long pause to break up its structure. Both songs leave one wondering what direction the song will take next.

Throughout the album, TSG prove they are a tight band of great players. But the question of “Who are you?” remains largely unanswered. TSG avoid many of the cliches associated with instrumental indie rock music but they also avoid taking too many risks. While their accomplished playing is probably spectacle enough in a live setting, on record, it often feels too safe. This is a highly-polished, elaborately-executed debut that leaves us wondering what the band will do next. They’ve proven their ability; let’s just hear them take some risks.