Downtown Singapore - Understanding A Guarantee (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Downtown Singapore

Understanding A Guarantee (2005)


Although Downtown Singapore's press release might promise all sorts of ridiculous trendhopping ("Jerry suggests the most apt description of their music is a 'mix between Coheed & Cambria and Thursday'") and clichéd denying of such ("We're a rock band"), the band is actually a far cry from a fair deal associated with such. A young and honest voice resembling the lead singer of Fairweather fronts the band, whose sound at times emulates Something To Write..-era Get Up Kids or most especially the slower moments on If They Move...Kill Them. They're still pretty derivative, but it's void of screaming, synth, and breakdowns (except for some silly riffs in "Love Gift"), so I don't see what the P.R. is trying to pull in kids about.

The one time they do take from Thursday is in some of the riffs in "Lower East Side," which actually works quite well in favor of the band; the emotions seem most stripped down here and at the same time seems much darker in mood in contrast to the rest of the EP, with some interesting pace changes and the strongest work the vocalist puts forth. The rest of the tracks just drag too much or make ill use of repetition and lyrics in need of less oblivious contexts.

One looming fault is how they rip off most of Fairweather's "South Street 1 AM" in "Velvet Divorce." Not only do the intros use a lot of the same midtempo guitar strokes to create an emotional atmosphere, but they make the same transition in the first minute, letting them softly fade so the vocals can crawl forth.

The band doesn't take themselves too seriously, as shown by their cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" that closes the EP. It's pretty cheesy and sort of kills any emotions that might've been building in the album, but with every vocal croon it sounds like someone's about to burst out into laughter, so at least they're having fun and keep it tight.

Understanding A Guarantee certainly has a moment here or there. It manages to avoid most badly-chosen, contemporary emo fare in favor of reaching back at least a couple years prior, but if it could strengthen those qualities and disperse them well, a solid record is in the works.

The Month Of May
Goodnight Lord
Velvet Divorce