Bobby Guard is unequivocally themself. A trait like individuality is so often fleeting — artists wedged between other artists in the traffic jam of widely accessible, attention span-less music forces the formula blueprint for success. The artists who block out this machine’s pressure and create on grounds of passion — regardless of the immediate outcome — carve a niche. This is much the case with Bobby Guard. They’ve honed their sound without confining it to one corner of the musical universe. Guard floats somewhere between the slick, gritty wordplay of Nick Cave, Perfume Genius’s bright presentation and Lou Reed’s dedication to singularity. On their most recent release, a double single titled “Bad Dog/Temporary Secretary,” Guard marches deeper into the art-rock-meets-alternative-folk-meets-full-volume-ballad-world of their own creation.
“Bad Dog” is maximalist heaven. A loose drum fill plays in an explosion of alternative instrumentation. In the music video, a face-painted Guard sways and spins in a red suit, looking like the King of Comedy. The background is a glitzy homemade setting. They jam on a paper guitar, and croon into a microphone about “a professional mutt in a perpetual rut, begging for tomorrow’s bone.” The last minute of the record is full speed ahead. Fingers mash piano, horn notes fly around the song without rhyme or reason, holes are poked into tom drums and chords are scratched underneath it all.
“Temporary Secretary” is both a plea and a dark tale in one. Paying homage to Paul McCartney’s 1980 track of the same name, Guard flips it on its head. Their vocalization is strung out and deepened. They sing about an uneasy corporate predicament that is all too familiar. The way they drag the word “sick” is one of many clever, theme-fitting moments. Then, in a flash, Guard breaks into a doo-wop sort-of coda, crooning “I don’t need no belly dancer,” amongst other labels. It’s the more obscure of the two tracks on the double single release, and it serves as a round-out moment for nine-ish minutes of wacky, wonderful music.
In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) is an ongoing series for 303 Magazine where we talk about the music you may have missed when it initially dropped. Have something you think we missed? Email inquiries for the series to [email protected]